Cult Actors 11 Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill is easily one of sci fi’s greatest leading men as well as one of its most versatile talents.

Whilst most famous for playing Luke Skywalker, the main hero from the original Star Wars trilogy. Hamill has brought a wide variety of colourful characters to life in his decades long career, from psychotic supervillains (such as most famously Batman’s nemesis, the Joker), to Hanukkah Zombies, to Paranormal detectives to ancient biblical figures. He has also enjoyed both a successful career in live action and become one of the most acclaimed and in demand voice actors of his generation. All of this of course makes him the perfect candidate for this weeks edition of Cult Actors.

We will examine Hamill’s most famous genre roles, as well as some of my own personal favourites, and see how he went from being  the most noble of heroes for one generation, to the vilest of villains for another.

Early Career

Mark Hamill’s career began in the early 70’s with among his first prominent roles being recurring character Kent Murray on General Hospital and the leading role of Doobie in the short lived sitcom The Texas Wheelers. He also guest starred on television series such as The Partridge Family and One Day At A Time.

He also did some voice acting in the 70’s too including supplying the voice of Corey Anders in the animated series Jeannie. Corey was the love interest of the title character voiced by Julie McWhirter. He later voiced the same character in a special crossover episode of Scooby Doo, “The Mystery in Persia” in 1973.

Whilst Hamill enjoyed a consistent career on television throughout the 70’s, it would ultimately be his starring role in Star Wars as Luke Skywalker that would make him a household name.

Star Wars Film Series/ Luke Skywalker

The main hero of the original Star Wars trilogy, Hamill has to date played this character on and off for almost 40 years!

Its funny thinking that Hamill only landed the role thanks to his friend Robert Englund (best known for playing the evil Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street film series) who whilst auditioning for a role in Apocalypse Now noticed that there were auditions going on down the hall for Star Wars and suggested to Hamill that he try out for the role of Luke.

Luke was something of a bland character on paper. A straight forward good guy with no real faults, but I think Mark brought a certain energetic quality to the character that made him more engaging to watch as well as a certain vulnerability in his relationship with Obi Wan that helped to make him seem more three dimensional. Though many fans and critics alike have accused Luke of being too whiny and I can understand why, but it has to be remembered that Luke at this point is meant to be a whiny teenager who we see gradually grow over the course of the original 3 films into the hero of the galaxy.

Over the years Luke despite being the main protagonist of the original trilogy has been somewhat overshadowed by the roguish Han Solo in popular culture. It is to be expected as after all Luke is the goody two shoes, whilst Han Solo was the cool guy who got all the best lines.

Still I think its fair to say that many of the most iconic moments in the series still tend to be centered around Luke such as his final showdown with the Death Star and of course the famous revelation that Darth Vader is his father.

Personally I always preferred Luke anyway. I’m not saying I disliked Han Solo, but sometimes he could be a bit too smug for my liking. Luke I always found to be likable and his story I always found to be more interesting. When we first meet him we couldn’t imagine anyone less likely to bring down the fearsome Empire. A whiny brat who wants to shirk all responsibility to go hang out with his friends, but as time goes on we see him mature and slowly become a great and noble warrior capable of besting even Darth Vader.

Though Luke was perhaps a bit too idealistic at times, I don’t think this worked against the character as again he was much younger than Solo, and when you are young you do tend to see things in more simplistic ways.

Whilst the success of Star Wars made Hamill a star around the world, his career would somewhat suffer on both the big and the small screen throughout the 80’s.

He found himself typecast as the hero for many years and though he did get starring roles in other successful films such as the comedy Corvette Summer opposite Annie Potts (in her film debut), the epic war film The Big Red One opposite Lee Marvin and the Musical The Night the Lights Went Out opposite Dennis Quaid. Ultimately he found it hard to escape the young Jedi’s shadow.

Hamill poking fun at his typecasting problem in a later episode of The Simpsons, Mayored to the Mob.

Apparently he was turned down for the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the film adaptation of the famous play about his life ( a role that he had played to great acclaim on stage years earlier in 1983) because the studio executives did not want Luke Skywalker in the film.

It would not be until the 90’s through his roles as The Trickster and The Joker that his career would be revitalised.

Still despite this Hamill never shied away from talking about his star making role as Luke and regularly spoofed it on television in series such as Family Guy, The Simpsons and Third Rock From the Sun.

He most recently reprised the role in Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens, though his appearance in this film was a tiny cameo, it has been conformed that he will be be appearing in a larger role in Star Wars Episode 8 The Last Jedi.

With the character of Luke alone, Hamill secured himself a place as one of popular Sci Fi’s greatest icons. Whilst he has since gone on to play many more famous characters, Luke still endures and has secured Hamill a place alongside Sci Fi’s other great leading men.

Body Bags/ Brent Matthews

Hamill appeared in this classic anthology horror telemovie, in the final segment as a man who is taken over by the spirit of a serial killer.

Hamill’s character is a successful baseball player whose life is turned upside down when he suffers an accident that costs him his right eye. He subsequently undergoes an experimental operational procedure to replace it, but unfortunately the eye he gets belonged to a serial killer and a necrophilliac whose soul starts to take him over and try and re enact his killings.

The premise for the story is completely absurd. It was later parodied in an episode of the Simpsons called Hell Toupee where Homer Simpson gets a hair transplant and is taken over by the spirit of criminal Snake.

Still despite this the film works because it takes its absurd premise completely seriously and Mark Hamill is able to deliver quite a nuanced performance as he switches between the loving husband Brent and the monster that tries to take him over.

Village of the Damned/ Reverend George

A more minor role, Hamill appeared in this remake of the 1960’s cult classic. Though it was poorly received at the time of release it has since developed a huge cult following.

The most notable thing about Hamill’s character is the way he is killed when the demonic children force him to shoot himself. Its not the goriest death in the film but its still quite disturbing nonetheless.

Whilst not as strong the original 60’s classic overall its a decent remake and it was quite nice at this point in his career to see Hamill return to playing a more toned down character after the string of cackling villains he had played.

The Trickster/ The Flash (1990’s), Justice League Unlimited, Lego DC Comics Superheroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom, The Flash (2014), Justice League Action

The Trickster is probably the character people associate with Hamill the most after Luke and the Joker. Not only did his performance as this character prove to be very popular, but he has also returned to the role many times over the past almost 30 years like the Joker and Luke.

Hamill first played the Trickster in the classic 1990’s live action version of the Flash. Whilst highly regarded now, sadly the show was not that successful when it first aired. It only lasted one season before being cancelled.

I think the series had real potential. It treated the source material seriously and it had a strong cast too. Clearly the show was both inspired by and also trying to cash in on the success of the Burton Batman films. The Flash was re-imagined as a darker, more brooding, angsty hero who was motivated by the death of a loved one at the hands of criminals like Batman. His costume is also reminiscent of Michael Keatons as Batman too, with the same sculpted latex muscles.

The show also had a dark and gritty tone like the Burton movies and took place in similar gloomy, Gothic settings. Finally its theme was also provided by Danny Elfman who also provided the theme for the Burton Batman films.

Mark Hamill’s version of the Trickster can be seen as yet another example of the Burton Batman’s influence on the series. In many ways he owes more to Jack Nicholson’s show stealing performance as the Joker than he does the Trickster of the comics.

In the comics the Trickster was really more of a lovable rogue than a villain. He was a crook, but he made sure that his crimes never killed anyone. He enjoyed his rivalry with the Flash, but he still had immense respect for him as a hero, and even liked him personally. In later issues the Trickster even became a fully fledged anti hero.

For this series however the Trickster is re-imagined as a sadistic, murdering psychopath like the Joker. Clearly the producers wanted the Flash to have a similar flamboyant, crazy archfoe like Nicholson’s Joker. A further parallel between the two villains can be found in the Tricksters first episode where he falls in love with the Flash’s love interest Megan Lockheart.

This is similar to the first Burton Batman film where the Joker falls in love with Batman’s love interest Vicki Vale. In both instances rather humorously the Joker and the Trickster think they have two love rivals in the form of Bruce Wayne and Batman, and Barry Allen and the Flash and try to murder the more harmless one, Bruce and Barry, being completely unaware that they are really the secret identity of their other ” love rival” Batman and the Flash.

If only the Trickster and the Joker knew that they were getting rid of the other guy too I think they’d have tried a bit harder.

In both cases the Joker and Tricksters crush’s led to some hilarious moments as the two villains are even crazier when in love (as indeed are we all).

The two whilst always psycho loonies become completely divorced from any kind of objective reality when pursuing the object of their affections. When the Joker first meets Vicki, he introduces himself by killing everyone else in the cafe, showing her pictures of his previous victims, and his girlfriend whose face he has burned off with acid, after which he tries to burn Vicki’s face off with acid before Batman rescues her. He later sees this as him “doing well with a beautiful woman before she ran off with Batman.”

With the Trickster meanwhile he and Megan first meet when she is chasing him for a series of grisly murders he carried out. The Trickster however corners Megan and captures her, after which he tries to slice her in half with a chainsaw. The Flash manages to save her in time, but the Trickster suddenly as he is being carted off falls in love with Megan and actually comes to believe that he saved her from the Flash and that she has been put under the Flash’s evil spell. Furthermore he also comes to believe that she was his loyal sidekick Prank, even though he never at any point had a sidekick called Prank.

When the Trickster first tells Megan that he has fallen in love with her, mere minutes after having tried to slice her in half you think he is joking. You think its just a taunt as the police take him away, but later when he is in the car talking about his beloved you realise “fuck he’s actually serious!

Whilst this version of the Trickster may have borrowed a lot from the Joker, in a nice irony he also may have inspired later versions of the Clown Prince of Crime too.

In his second appearance the Trickster is shown to be assisted by a young blonde woman named Zoey Clarke. Clarke begins as a groupie of the Trickster, sending him love letters in prison and yelling at Megan Lockheart that she didn’t deserve him, but eventually she helps him to escape and actually becomes his fantasy sidekick Prank.

Prank is utterly devoted to the Trickster even though he is relentlessly cruel to her. He ignores her at the best of times. He threatens to kill her, ties her up and puts a bag over her head that says “NAG NAG NAG” when she annoys him and regularly betrays her, sometimes even just because it amuses him rather than because he’s a dirty coward.

Yet despite this she always remains loyal to him. Zoey/Prank bares many similarities to Harley Quinn, the Jokers lover/sidekick who debuted many years later in Batman the Animated series. Harley like Zoey/Prank is utterly devoted to the Joker in spite the extreme physical and mental abuse he inflicts on her. Even on a superficial level they are both blonde, bubbly and sweet on the surface, but underneath they are vicious, sadistic and in their own way just as twisted and mad as the Joker and the Trickster themselves. Both even dress in similar bright, clown colours too.

There is even a scene where Zoey/Prank attempts to remove the Flash’s mask only to be threatened with death by the Trickster for trying to interfere in his rivalry with the hero. This is similar to the classic comic Mad Love, and its animated adaptation where Harley, foolishly believing that Batman is getting in the way of her and the Jokers courtship, captures Batman and tries to kill him only for the Joker to throw her through a 5 storey window for trying to interfere in his fun with Batman!

You can see from these clips how the Trickster/Prank dynamic was a complete precursor to the Joker/Harley relationship. You could replace all 3 characters in the second video with the Joker, Harley and Batman and I don’t think you’d have to change anything but the names.

I have no idea if Prank was an influence on Harley. I must admit I have never seen her be mentioned as such, but she was definitely still her spiritual predecessor nonetheless. A blonde, childlike, sweet, but crazy murderer who was inexplicably devoted to a giggling, vicious psychopath who constantly mistreated her in the most appalling way’s played by Mark Hamill!

Whilst the Trickster was depicted as being the Flash’s archenemy, he was only in 2 episodes of the series. To be fair though the show only lasted for one year. Had it gone on longer then I’m sure he would have been in many more episodes.

The two episodes featuring the Trickster are in my opinion the best in the entire show. I think this series suffered from the fact that it was unable to use a lot of the Flash’s colourful rogues gallery. This was due to practical reasons as they simply couldn’t have brought characters like Gorilla Grodd to life realistically on their budget.

They did still have a few of the Flash’s other enemies such as Captain Cold and Mirror Master, as well as an evil version of The Flash based on the numerous Reverse Flash’s over the years.

However the Trickster was the real standout rogue of the series. He almost made up for the fact that they couldn’t have more famous enemies of the Flash. I’d rate Hamill’s Trickster as one of the greatest comic book villains adapted to film or television.

Like Nicholson’s Joker he simply steals any scene he is in and he is really what people remember the most from the 90’s series. That’s not to do down John Wesley Shipp who was a brilliant Flash, but I think that Hamill’s Trickster was really a stand out villain in every respect.

I’d say that the best episode with the Trickster was his second appearance. Here the Trickster captures and brainwashes the Flash, turning him into his partner in crime.

The scenes of the Trickster and the Flash going on a crime spree together and later putting Central City on trial are hilarious. They go completely Adam West in terms of how absurd they make it. I can kind of understand why the Trickster abandoned Prank for the Flash as he and the evil Flash are way more fun together.

You can tell Hamill and Shipp loved doing these scenes together. 

Hamill would go on to reprise the role of the Trickster over 10 years later in the animated series Justice League Unlimited.

The character only appeared in one episode “Flash and Substance.” Though drawn to resemble the version from the 90’s live action series, this interpretation of the character is actually closer to the comic book version. This Trickster though still insane is not a murderer. He is also a friend of the Flash and indeed the Flash later convinces him to not only tell him of a plot by the rogues to kill the Flash, but even turn himself in without a fight.

Whilst not as wild as his 90’s version, it was nice to see Mark get a chance to play a Trickster that was actually closer to the original version for once rather than a Joker copy.

Hamill next played the character in the animated movie “Lego DC Comics Superheroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom” (he also voiced Green Lantern’s archenemy Sinestro in this film too.) A joke is made about his resemblance to the Joker in other media, with someone even mistaking him for Batman’s archenemy.

Hamill later went on to reprise the role in live action in The Flash 2014 series. This series which is currently on its third season is a spin off of Arrow, with it, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow all making up a shared continuity.

I think this series has been a worthy successor to the original 90’s show. It has a strong cast, great characters, and it is faithful to the source material. Unlike the 90’s series it has been able to feature even the most over the top villains from the comics such as the Shark King.

The makers of this series are big fans of the 90’s series too and have filled it full of many references, tributes and Easter eggs to the 90’s series.

To start with many cast members of the 90’s version have made appearances in the modern Flash. Mark Hamill obviously reprises his role as the Trickster, whilst Amanda Pays also reprises her role as Tina McGee from the original too. John Wesley Shipp meanwhile plays Barry Allen’s father, Henry Allen.

The connections between the 90’s show and the 10’s show run deeper than that however. Its not a sequel but they are actually connected in universe. In its second season the modern Flash show explores the concept of alternate universes. When the Flash travels through the multiverse to Earth 2 we get a glimpse of other alternate universes. One of them is the universe the CW television series Supergirl takes place on (which is conformed when the Flash ends up travelling to her universe in Supergirl’s first season). Whilst another is shown to be the universe of the 90’s Flash.

This therefore means that not only do both series take place in the same multiverse, but the modern show is really an alternate version of the events of the 90’s show and that Hamill, Pays and Shipp are all playing alternate versions of their characters from the 90’s series. So in a way they are reprising their roles.

Though one discrepancy does exist in the fact that Shipp’s character is called Henry in the 10’s show and Barry in the 90’s show when they are supposed to be counterparts to each other, it can be explained this way.

In the 90’s show’s universe which we will just call Earth 90 for practicality sake, Henry Allen was named Barry instead. Maybe his parents had settled on either Henry or Barry as their child’s name and in Earth 90 they went for Barry, whilst on Earth 1 (the name of the universe the 2010’s series takes place on) they went for Henry. Barry Allen on Earth 90 went into the police force and through an accident became the Flash of that universe who went on to battle criminals such as his archenemy the Trickster.

On Earth 1 meanwhile Henry Allen his counterpart for some reason became a Doctor instead. He therefore never became the Flash, never met Doctor McGee and married a woman named Noira and had a child who he named Barry (perhaps because he knew that was what his parents were going to call him). Henry’s son through an entirely different accident later ended up becoming the Flash of that universe.

Incidentally later episodes show another universe, called Earth 3 where Henry Allen also became the Flash.

In this universe Henry was called Jay Garrick however (the name of the original Flash from the comic books) as in this universe his parents divorced before his birth, so he took his mothers maiden name of Garrick. She meanwhile named him Jay, which was the name of his brother in Earth 90. Presumably his brother was never born and she named him Jay instead. Thus in two universes Henry is the Flash, but in one he is the father of the Flash.

The idea of the 2010’s series being an alternate series of events to the 90’s one is further explored in the Trickster episodes.

In the 2010’s series it is said that the Trickster 20 years before the events of the series went on a massive rampage throughout Central City where he killed over a dozen people and destroyed whole buildings before being apprehended. Not only does this coincide with the date of his rampage from the 90’s show, but when we are shown pictures of his previous crime spree, pictures of Hamill from the 90’s show are used.

On Earth 1 since Henry never became the Flash in the 90’s, then there was no one to stop the Trickster and his rampage claimed even more lives in this universe. Sadly no mention has been made of Prank in this universe and the Earth 1 Trickster is instead served by his equally insane son Axel (who was the Trickster’s successor in the comics.)

Personally however I believe that Prank is Axel’s mother in this universe. Hopefully we’ll see Prank in a future episode. I’d love to see a family of Tricksters rampage their way across Central City. Also they could have Prank be in the Arrowverse version of Suicide Squad as a replacement for Harley Quinn who they can’t use. Ironically I’m sure most people would accuse Prank of just being a rip off of Harley Quinn, but us fans of the 90’s Flash series would know that Prank came first.

The Earth 1 Trickster is every bit as twisted, evil, sadistic and insane as the Earth 90 version so Hamill once again is really playing the Joker more than the Trickster of the comics.

The Earth 1 Trickster is not the Flash’s archenemy however like his 90’s counterpart was. That position is filled instead by Eobart Thwaine and Zoom in the 21st century series. The Trickster has in fact only appeared in two episodes of the series so far due to Hamill’s busy schedule.

Still despite this the Earth 1 Trickster is still presented as one of the Flash’s most dangerous enemies. He comes closer to killing him than most of his other foes. Even more impressive when you consider that he is one of the few in this series that doesn’t have powers. In his first battle with the Flash, the scarlet speedster is forced to discover another power in order to defeat him (the power to phase through solid objects in order to get a bomb off his arm)

I am not sure which of the two Trickster episodes is my favourite. They have both been very strong. I loved his twisted relationship with his son in his first appearance (there was even a nice homage to Star Wars when the Trickster says “I am your father” to Axel) However I also felt the Trickster and Weather Wizard made a great team in the second episode. I particularly liked the Tricksters delusional rant about how after he kills the Flash, the hero of the city who everyone looks up to in a horrible way in public, then everyone will think he saved the city. Even though he is a lunatic you still wonder how he came to that conclusion?

Whilst the Earth 1 Trickster has not appeared in series 3 so far, Mark Hamill did go on to play the Earth 3 version of the character in a small cameo.

This version of the Trickster physically resembles the Joker. He has white skin, a large grin and greenish hair. The Earth 3 Trickster is also even more insane than either of his two counterparts as he is willing to blow himself up at the drop of a hat. The Earth 1 Trickster at least is still shown to value his own safety, but this guy it seems was going to blow himself to pieces even before the Flash showed up.

The Earth 3 Trickster is shown to battle the Jay Garrick Flash who is played by John Wesley Shipp. This marks the second time the two actors were reunited in the modern Flash series. In the Tricksters first appearance in the 2014 series, the villain captures Henry Allen. I liked the scenes with Henry and the Trickster, not only because they were nice homages to the 90’s series, but its also funny thinking that the Trickster and Henry in another universe (two in fact including Earth 3) were sworn archenemies with one another, but in this universe they barely know each other. Its the same with Henry and Doctor McGee who in another universe were practically soul mates, but on Earth 1 they only meet twice.

Mark Hamill and John Wesley Shipp have been fighting with each other for 20 years across 3 different universes, and finally when Mark’s about to kill John, John’s son from another universe bursts in and saves him!

Finally Hamill also recently voiced the Trickster in the animated series Justice League Action (where he also voiced both the Joker and Swamp Thing) Sadly I have not had a chance to watch this series yet so I can’t comment on Hamill’s performance, but I’d imagine that it will probably be closer to the actual Trickster so as to not clash with Hamill’s Joker.

Not many actors have 3 characters that everyone, audiences, directors, writers want to see them keep returning to for over 20 years. Most actors are lucky if they have one character like that, like Arnold Schwarzanegger with the Terminator.  Some have 2 such as Stallone with Rocky and Rambo but its quite rare to have 3. The only other actor I can think of off the top of my head that had 3 characters they kept returning to over several decades is Peter Cushing.

Cushing played Victor Frankenstein, Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes from when he was a young man to when he was an old man. Whilst other actors played those roles in between, audiences clearly were always wanting to see more of Cushing in these roles. With Hamill its the same. Yes other actors have played the Joker to great acclaim, and even the Trickster too, but still clearly people haven’t got tired of his versions of those great characters and obviously there will only be one Luke. Also much like Cushing with Van Helsing and Holmes, you almost don’t even notice that they are older. Cushing was still able to thrash Vampires in his old age as much as he could as a young Van Helsing, whilst Hamill’s Trickster is still as dynamic and engaging on the screen as he ever was.

No one can terrorise a room full of people and make you laugh at the same time quite like Hamill.

What’s even more incredible is that all 3 of Hamill’s performances as these characters in some ways are being brought to larger audiences than ever before after many decades. His version of the Trickster certainly is. Though well received from the start the original Flash series was for many years overlooked, whilst the recent series has not only proven to be a massive hit, but has also helped more people discover the original too. His version of the Joker meanwhile has similarly been arguably brought to larger audiences through the Arkham games (one of which saw him win a BAFTA for his performance) Though the original Batman animated series was always very popular, at the very least even if the Arkham games are not a wider audience they are still very high profile.

Finally the modern Star Wars films again though not more popular than the original are still massively successful.

Its doubtless that Hamill will go on to play all 3 characters for many more years to come. Personally I’ll always be happy to watch his Trickster terrorise the Flash and Central City either in live action or animation.

Ferris Boyle/ Batman the Animated Series

Hamill voiced this villain in what is regarded by fans and critics alike as one of, if not the greatest episode of Batman the Animated Series, Heart of Ice.

Boyle in contrast to the Joker and the Trickster was more of a straight, mundane villain. A slimy, crooked, weasly business man who doesn’t care who he hurts.

Still Boyle has the honour of creating one of Batman’s most dangerous rogues, Mr Freeze.

Victor Fries originally worked for Boyle. He was working on an experiment to try and cure his terminally ill wife Nora. He had placed her in suspended animation until a treatment could be found for her condition. Unfortunately Boyle decided to pull the plug feeling that it wasn’t profitable.

Victor pleaded with Ferris not to interrupt the experiment as it would kill Nora,  but Ferris didn’t listen and in the resulting scuffle where Victor pulled a gun on Ferris there was an explosion which seemingly killed both Nora and Victor.

This scene is easily one of the most powerful in any Batman adaptation. Michael Ansara who voices Victor and Mark Hamill play off of one another brilliantly. Fries is so emotional, begging with Boyle who in contrast is utterly pitiless. At no point does Boyle show even the slightest bit of compassion towards Victor and Nora. Then of course there is the weasly way he gets the better of Victor which helps to make Boyle one of the most utterly loathsome characters in the whole series.

Of course this later comes back to bite Boyle when it is revealed that Victor survived the accident and returns to get revenge on Boyle.

The final showdown between the two is another thrilling moment as Boyle pitifully begs Freeze to spare him, only for Freeze to be just as pitiless as he once was in return.

“You beg? In my nightmares I see my Nora behind the glass, begging me with frozen eyes. How I have longed to see that look frozen on you!”

You are actually annoyed for the only time in the series when Batman stops a villain from killing someone.

Hamill and Kevin Conroy who voices Batman also play off of one another brilliantly too. Hamill would later go on to play the Joker opposite Conroy as Batman, but even here you can see how well the two actors work opposite each other.

From the start its obvious that Bruce dislikes Boyle immensely. Even before he knows what he has done, Bruce can tell what a phoney Boyle is, and later though Batman stops Freeze from killing Boyle, he also doesn’t both to free his legs from the ice. Earlier when Freeze accidentally shot one of his own men with his ice gun, Batman went to great lengths to help Freeze’s lackey. He even took him back to the Batcave to treat him. Here however he seems to enjoy watching Boyle squirm in the ice and even taunts him at one point.

Whilst not as dynamic a character as the Joker or the Trickster, Boyle was still an effective villain in his own right. He is a classic example of the banality of evil. A selfish, greedy coward who always thinks he will be able to walk away from the harm he causes other people unscathed. Hamill really captured the characters sneering arrogance and wretched cowardice perfectly.

The Joker/ DC Animated Universe, Arkham Game series, Batman the Killing Joke, Justice League Action, Birds of Prey, Batman New Times

Mark’s greatest role in my opinion. To so many of us who grew up in the 90’s, Mark is THE Joker.

Mark first played the Joker in the classic Batman the Animated Series in 1992. This series would be the first in what has become known as the DC Animated Universe, a group of tv shows and films all of which share the same continuity. The DCAU as its more commonly known would last for over 10 years until Justice League Unlimited in 2006. Most of Mark’s performances as the Joker are within the DCAU, though he has played the character in a couple of high profile non DCAU productions too such as most notable the Arkham games.

Many talented actors have brought the most famous of Batman’s adversaries to life over the decades, but I’d say the 4 most iconic interpretations are Cesar Romero’s in the 60’s television series, Jack Nicholson’s in the 1989 movie, Heath Ledgers in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight and obviously Mark Hamill’s incarnation in the DCAU.

All 4 performances were brilliant, but I think Mark was the best. Of course that’s just my opinion, but I think that Mark’s Joker had the widest range.

The other 3 actors I think all managed to define a different aspect of the Jokers personality from the comics. The Joker much like his nemesis Batman has changed dramatically over the years and Jack, Cesar and Heath I feel all drew from one particular era for inspiration.

Romero’s performance captured the lighter qualities of the character. Throughout the 50’s and the 60’s the Joker was depicted as a silly prankster as befitting the campier tone of the comics at that time. Romero’s Joker who was also a total buffoon was clearly meant to embody that era of Batman and in that respect I think he was 100 percent successful.

Nicholson’s performance meanwhile I think captured the darker humour of the character. The Joker has always been able to get us to laugh at the most horrible things he does to people even when we know we shouldn’t. Jack’s Joker similarly was always able to make us laugh when he stabbed people in the throat with sharpened feathers, killed news reporters with Smilex, or shot his “number 1 guy” Bob for no reason at all. Jack’s Joker I think also really drew from the 70’s when the Joker was re-imagined as a vicious killer again, but also still portrayed as a somewhat over the top campy character in classic stories like “The Jokers Five Way Revenge”.

Finally Ledgers Joker I think drew from the characters earliest appearances. In the beginning the Joker was a truly monstrous villain. He looked terrifying, he was genuinely mysterious. We knew nothing about his origins and where he came from (and wouldn’t for another 20 years), and he was always two steps ahead of Batman. He was also a devastating hand to hand fighter, capable of even besting the Batman himself! Ledgers Joker captured all of these qualities, with his Joker similarly being mysterious. We never did find out where he came from or who he was.  He also is two steps ahead of Batman and the police throughout the film (and in many ways wins completely!) And physically he is much more of a threat to Batman being able to defeat him in their final confrontation and never shows any fear, even when falling to his death, unlike Jack and Romero who much like the 60’s and 70’s versions of the Joker were both cowardly.

Mark Hamill meanwhile I feel was able to make the character both frightening and comical and thus didn’t just seem like one version of the character from a particular era, but the Joker overall..

In certain episodes of Batman the Animated Series the Joker is a Romero style comical villain, such as Make Em Laugh where his plan is to brainwash three comedians in order to win a comedy trophy. At the end of the episode the Joker is humiliated by having the comedy trophy he wanted to steal knocked onto his head and his trousers pulled down in public. Such a scene would not look out of place in a classic campy Batman comic from the 60’s or indeed the Adam West series.

Hamill is every bit as good as Romero in showing a lighter side to the Joker in episodes like this, but at the same time he was also just as frightening as Ledger or Nicholson ever were in the darker episodes of Batman the Animated Series.

In the episode called Harlequinade the Joker plans to destroy all of Gotham with a nuclear bomb. Even when Batman disables the bomb the Joker still fires at it with a machine gun declaring “that bomb’s going off even if I go with it”! Here Hamill captures the “just want to watch the world burn” persona and psychotic fanaticism of the character as well as Ledger ever did. You genuinely believe that his Joker is prepared to kill himself, and millions of innocent people just to get Batman and the police.

In the episode The Laughing Fish meanwhile (which is based on the comic of the same name) the Joker tries to copyright fish that he infects with his Joker gas (which gives them the same hideous grin he has). When he is told he can’t copyright fish, a natural resource he starts murdering people one by one until he gets his wish. Just like the Dark Knight he announces who he is going to kill before he does it. I was always terrified of this episode when I was young. The Joker is more like a horror movie villain stalking his victims in the night, preying on the most vulnerable and weak.

Another example of how frightening Hamill’s Joker could be can be seen in Jokers Favour where the Joker torments the lowly Charlie Collins for two years. Charlie angers the Joker when after a long day at work, he screams at the Joker on the road for cutting him off. Once he realises however that its the Joker and not just a rude driver, Charlie panics and drives away. Unfortunately the Joker starts following him.

Again I was always scared of this scene as a child. Imagine being in Charlies situation here. You shout and scream at someone you think is just an arrogant jerk, but then you see that its the most wanted man in the country! Then you hope he’ll just forget it. Surely he has other fish to fry. Indeed the Joker is being chased by both Batman and the police at that point. Yet he still devotes his attention to Charlie, following him, taunting him just simply by waving his hand out of the car. Later as Charlie panics he becomes lost in the woods and soon to his horror sees the Joker is still following him and now there is no one else around. When the Joker corners Charlie he agrees to spare him as long as Charlie helps the Joker at a later date.

Charlie goes to the effort of moving and changing his name to avoid the Joker, but two years on the Joker reveals that he has been following Charlie the whole time before he asks him for a favour (which would have killed Charlie had it not been for Batman).

Perversely the Joker describes this torture of Charlie and ruining his entire life as his hobby!

“For two years he watched me like a bug in a jar, watched and laughed and threatened my family!

Its a brilliant example of how chaotic the Joker truly is the way no one is safe from his inhuman cruelty. One minute he could be targeting the Mayor such as in the episode Be A Clown, the next he could abandon those plans to target the most lowly, harmless citizen like Charlie Collins all because it amuses him. Once again Hamill is every bit as terrifying in this episode as any of the most famous darker Jokers are in their worst moments.

Finally in addition to this Hamill also I feel was able to portray the characters darker humour as effectively as any other actor too. Like Nicholson he was often able to get us to laugh at the villains vilest actions, like torturing Commissioner Gordon and killing his own men on a whim.

I have seen many people say that whenever they read a Joker comic they instinctively have Mark’s voice in their head for the Joker. I do too, and I think the reason for that is that unlike the other Joker performances you can imagine Mark’s voice fitting the villain in any type of story, from any era.

If its the camp, silly Joker from the 60’s Mark’s voice fits, if its the terrifying Joker that cripples Barbara Gordon from the 80’s then Hamill’s voice still fits.

Obviously you couldn’t imagine Ledger in a camp Adam West style story, and similarly you couldn’t imagine Romero in a darker Batman.

Thus again whilst the other actors managed to successfully portray the Joker from a particular era, Mark Hamill to me was the only one who was the Joker all around.

Another aspect of the Jokers personality that the 90’s animated series captured perfectly was his relationship with Batman. In this series the Joker wanted to kill Batman, but he was determined that he was the only one who would kill him.

Whilst this was something of a cliched premise, the shows writers and Hamill I think were able to do something new with it.

In the episode The Man Who Killed Batman the caped crusader is seemingly killed when he accidentally falls of a building during a confrontation with small time crook “Sid the Squid”. Sid becomes known as the man who killed Batman by the underworld and its not long before he meets the Joker.

The Joker pretends to be delighted with his foes demise at first. Even claiming he wants to shake Sid’s hand, but it’s apparent from the beginning that underneath he is unhappy with the whole situation. He later stages a robbery to draw the Batman out and when it doesn’t work he believes that Batman is gone and later not only tries to kill Sid, but even holds a funeral for the Dark Knight.

The Joker even cries at Batman’s death. At first it seems like a totally surreal situation. The Joker of all people is devastated at Batman’s death? He’s almost mourning him like a friend! When he says “without Batman crime has no punchline” you almost forget what their relationship really was and feel sorry for the Joker losing the one person who gave his life meaning. Its insane!

However you later realise that it actually makes perfect sense. For the past 7 years the Joker has been determined to get back at Batman so much he has devoted his entire existence to it. He actually has had nothing else in his life for so long but his feud with Batman and now he finds out that it was all for nothing. All those years were completely wasted.

The fact that Batman was also disposed of by such a small time crook hurts his ego tremendously. Now in people’s eyes if Batman is so easy to dispose of, maybe he wasn’t that powerful after all? Maybe it was just that the likes of the Joker, the Penguin and Two Face were so incompetent? Thus he is killing Sid almost to save face more than anything else.

Mark Hamil has listed this scene as being his all time favourite performance as the Joker and has even performed it at conventions.

Its such a delicious irony that if someone else ever kills Batman, the Joker, his greatest ever adversary will be the only person to avenge him (as the likes of Robin and Gordon would never kill anyone)

Another example of the Jokers obsession with killing Batman can be found in the episode Joker’s Favour. Here the Joker is cornered by Charlie after his attempt on his life. Charlie finally fights back and reveals that he found one of the Jokers old bombs. Charlie tells the Joker that he has had enough of him tormenting him and his family and so he is going to blow them both up.

The Joker becomes absolutely terrified to the point where he ends up calling out to Batman for help. When Batman shows up, the Joker even cowers behind the caped crusader until it is revealed that the bomb is a dud leaving the Joker utterly humiliated.

Probably the low point of the Jokers career.

The great thing about this scene however is that in many ways it is the reverse of the Jokers Eulogy to Batman. The Joker does not fear death in this series. We saw that when he was happy to blow himself up to destroy Gotham. Here however he is terrified at the thought of being killed by a “miserable little nobody” like Charlie Collins.

The Joker would love to be killed by Batman when he finally drives him over the edge, or in a blaze of glory that takes down Gotham. But he can’t bare the thought of suffering such an ignoble end at the hands of someone so (in his eyes) insignificant. Charlie knows this of course and rubs it in.

“You miserable little nobody. If I get caught again. Your wife and son are history!”

“You’re not getting caught. Not this time. I found this blown out of the van. This is how it ends Joker, no grand schemes, no final duel with the Dark Knight. Tomorrow all the papers will read is that the great Joker was found blown to pieces in an alley alongside a miserable little nobody. Kind of funny. You see I can destroy a man’s dreams too, and that’s really the only dream you’ve got. Isn’t it?”

I think Hamill is just as brilliant in this scene as he is in the famous Joker Eulogy moment as he really does make the Joker seem pitiful and desperate the way he tries to reason with Charlie, calls out to Batman for help in his absolute shame, and even hilariously at one point tells Charlie he’s crazy!

You’d have never thought at the start of the episode when the Joker terrorised Charlie that Charlie would later bring the villain to his knees. That was the great thing about Mark’s Joker though. He was such an utterly unpredictable character all around. You’d always hope he would show up, but at the same time you could never guess what type of story it would be or what would happen when he did.

You could to some extent with Batman’s other rogues. With villains like Mr Freeze or Clayface or Two Face for instance you would expect a darker episode, whilst with the Riddler you’d know it would be more campy. You could also guess what their motives would be too to some extent. Mr Freeze wants to help his wife, or its to do with his wife in some way, Clayface wants to be normal, Poison Ivy cares about plants.

With Mark’s Joker however you have no idea what way it could go. Would it be a silly comedy episode where the Joker was a total clown? Or would it be a dark frightening episode that takes us deep into what a relentless sadist he really is? Or would it be both?

What would the Joker want? Would his plans be a threat to all of Gotham or would he focus on something stupid like a comedy contest? Would the Joker be a deranged madman not caring if he blew himself up to get the Batman, or a miserable coward calling to him for help? Would he try and smash Batman’s skull in with a wrench or cry over his death? Would he casually toss the woman who loves him more than anything out of a window because she didn’t get his joke or embrace her after she tried to blow his brains out and foiled his scheme? Would he toss one of his own henchman to his man eating mutant hyena’s because he asked a stupid question, or would he grieve when Batman destroyed his stupid robot, Captain Clown as though it were his son!

All of this made the Hamill Joker a character that you never got bored of watching.

Of all the Batman’s main enemies the Joker appeared by far the most frequently in the animated series which is not surprising. The animated Joker was an absolute tour de force in terms of his characterisation and Hamill’s performance. You can see why the producers of the series wanted to use him as often as possible.

After Batman the Animated Series finished Hamill would reprise the role of the Joker in the feature length film Batman Mask of the Phantasm.

A sequel to the Animated Series, this film was actually originally intended to be the finale to the series overall.

Here the origins of the Joker were explored. Originally the Joker (before he fell into a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin white and drove him insane) was a sadistic hitman working for the mob (much like Jack Nicholson’s version) He was responsible for the murder of Batman’s one true love Andrea Bueamont’s father.

Andrea returns many years later as the masked Phantasm and begins murdering all the members of the mob responsible for her fathers death, saving the Joker for last.

There are some brilliant Batman/Joker fights in this film but the greatest moment is Andrea’s final confrontation with the Joker. Here the villain is broken, beaten, and bloodied. He has no way of defending himself and she wants him dead more than anyone else on the planet. She is also already a killer. On top of that the Jokers base of operations for years is exploding. All of his life’s work is going up in flames and what does he do? He rolls his head back and laughs as though it were his greatest moment.

Again this is yet another example of how Mark’s Joker is just completely unpredictable. Still as mad as it is, much like the Joker shedding a tear at Batman’s death, it does makes sense from the Jokers twisted perspective.

Whilst the Joker does hate the idea of his death being a low key event, and not a final duel with his archenemy, at the same time you can see how he would laugh at the irony of it all. Batman made the Joker. He was a no name crook who was driven insane when Batman accidentally knocked him into a vat of chemicals. For years he has loved tormenting Batman with this knowledge, but now he is facing a monster that he created the Phantasm who is going to finally be the one to kill him. Added to that the fact that Batman cares for her means that in death the Joker will taint Batman’s life in a way he never managed to in life, as killing the Joker will finally put Andrea beyond a point of no return. Thus he can’t help but laugh at it all.

This scene also demonstrates another defining aspect of Hamill’s performance as the clown prince of crime. His dynamic use of the villains laughter. Hamill would apparently practice his laugh on the way to the recording studio in his car. He joked that it was odd that no one seemed to think his behaviour was odd.

Whilst Batman Mask of the Phantasm was intended to be the end of that version of Batman, ultimately a sequel series set many years later called The New Batman Adventures would soon follow. Hamill once again reprised his role as the Joker.

Much like the original series, the Joker was the most recurring villain. Of his many appearances in this series, his best was undoubtedly Mad Love, which was based on an old comic written by the creators of the series.

Here we discover the origins of the Jokers sidekick Harley Quinn, a character original to the Animated Series that proved to be so popular she was later incorporated into the comics and even subsequent live action adaptations of Batman such as Birds of Prey and the recent blockbuster Suicide Squad.

Harley began as the Joker’s psychiatrist Doctor Harleen Quinzell but she eventually fell in love with him after he spun false stories about an abusive past that she foolishly believed. She came to see the Joker as a poor lost soul that she needed to protect.

I quite like the way that the introduction of a love interest will almost always show a softer side to even the vilest villain like Alfred Bester in Babylon 5, but in the Mark Hamill Jokers case however it just shows a whole new twisted side to him.

Harley Quinn is a woman who loves the Joker more than anything else in the world. She gives up everything to be with him, and there is nothing she wouldn’t do for him.

He however treats her in the most appalling way. He regularly beats her, even comes close to killing her on many occasions. He also never shows her any real affection  and generally just uses her for his own ends and abandons her, even outright betrays her when it suits him.

A new low even for him!

Mark Hamill would go on to play the Joker in three episodes of Superman the animated series called “Worlds Finest”. This crossover episode established both of the Batman and the Superman cartoons existing in the same universe, effectively creating the DC Animated Universe.

In Worlds Finest the Joker travels to Metropolis after stealing a Kryptonite statue to make a deal with Lex Luthor to kill Superman for a billion dollars.

A meeting of two great, but twisted minds.

The Joker actually comes closer to killing Superman than any of his foes apart from Darkseid. Pretty impressive when you consider he doesn’t have any super powers. Had it not been for Batman then Superman would have been well and truly dead. Lois Lane too.

Some fans have criticised the fact that the Joker was able to dispatch Superman, and in the later Justice League series heroes like Wonder Woman and the Flash relatively easily whilst he still always struggles with Batman who has no super powers at all.

However I don’t see this as a contradiction. To start with Superman has a key weakness that the Joker can exploit. Remember that Lex Luthor, Supes archenemy has no powers either, and he not only fights the Man of Steel but the entire Justice League on a regular basis.

Also many of the more powerful heroes such as Superman and Wonder Woman greatly underestimate the Joker. They think due to his somewhat comical appearance that he is not a real threat. Superman doesn’t even take the Joker seriously when he has a Kryptonite statue until its too late.

Batman meanwhile through experience knows to never underestimate the Joker for a second and to always expect the unexpected with the Joker.

World’s Finest is a truly excellent story. Hamill is on top form and watching him interact with Clancy Brown’s version of Lex Luthor is also brilliant. Clancy Brown is for me and many others the definitive Lex. He is to that character what Hamill is to the Joker.

Watching the Joker and Lex work together is always interesting because you are never sure which one is worse. On the one hand the Joker is more senselessly cruel. You could never imagine Lex doing something as heinous as crippling Barbara Gordon just for the hell of it like the Joker. Everything Lex does has a purpose even if its just to get back at Superman. At the same time however the Joker at the very least has the excuse of being completely insane, where as Lex Luthor is completely responsible for his actions.

Sadly the only downside of having the Joker and Lex together is that whenever they fight one has to naturally get undermined as a villain. As the Joker is the most popular supervillain of all time, poor old Lex is always the one that gets undermined. I say that even as someone who prefers the Joker to Lex.

World’s Finest proves to be no different as at the end of the three part story, the Joker captures Lex and uses his own Lex Wing to bombard all of Metropolis with bombs killing thousands of people, before Batman and Superman manage to stop the Joker and save Lex.

Its sad that even in the animated universe the Joker still beats Lex but its nothing new.

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In animation or in comics Lex is always the Jokers little bitch.

Whilst its sad to see Lex get undermined, the combo of Brown and Hamill together is brilliant and not surprisingly this wouldn’t be the last time the these two versions of the famous villains would meet. In fact the DCAU Joker is ironically in more episodes with Lex Luthor than he is with any other Batman villain, apart from Harley Quinn of course.

Hamill would also voice the Joker in an episode of an animated series called Static Shock. This episode called “The Big Leagues” sees the Joker travel to the main hero of the show, Virgil Hawkins city to recruit a metahuman gang. Batman and Robin follow him there and working with Virgil they are able to foil the Clown Prince of Crimes plans.

Sadly this episode is not quite as strong as World’s Finest. Its not bad by any means but it is kind of just a standard crossover episode, though at least it did establish Static Shock as part of the DCAU.

Following the conclusion of The New Batman Adventures and Superman, Hamill would next play the Joker in the feature length film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

This movie served as the finale to the Batman Beyond series. Batman Beyond was set 50 years after the New Batman Adventures and Superman. It sees an elderly Bruce Wayne train a new Batman, Terry McGuinness to protect the Gotham of the future.

This film naturally not only features the return of the Joker, but also shows us how the villains feud with the original Batman came to an end.

At some point after the New Batman Adventures (and Justice League and Justice League Unlimited) the Joker captured the second Robin, Tim Drake and tortured him for weeks on end.

Robin eventually broke and told the Joker all of Batman’s secrets. The Joker continued to torture the boy even after he told him all he wanted to know, until eventually Tim was driven completely insane. The Joker then dressed Robin as a tiny versions of himself and dubbed him “Little J”. He even came to see Robin as his son!

In this scene Mark’s Joker is every bit as terrifying and evil as either Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledgers Jokers ever were. Its hard to believe he was the same villain from Make Em Laugh with the trophy on his head and his pants by his ankles.

Ultimately the Jokers plan to use Robin or Little J to kill Batman backfires on him literally as Robin ultimately shoots the Joker through the heart.

It took a year for Robin to be nursed back to sanity after his ordeal. Bruce Wayne meanwhile forbade Tim from ever being Robin again.

50 years later the Joker mysteriously returns from the grave to torment Bruce Wayne and the new Batman Terry McGuinness  It is later revealed that the Joker survived by embedding his DNA and mind on a microchip which he then implanted into Robin’s neck in the weeks he held him hostage.

Though it took decades the chip was eventually able to physically turn Robin into a copy of the Joker and allow his mind to take over Tim’s body. The physical and mental changes only last for a short while however after which Tim has no memory of what happened, though the Joker says at the end that soon he will be able to live in Tim’s body permanently.

At the end of the film Terry McGuinness finally puts an end to the Joker when he uses his own electric joy buzzer to destroy the chip.

Personally I’d rate Return of the Joker as my favourite animated movie in either live action or animation. I’d also say its Mark’s finest hour as the Joker and the most effective take on the villain I’ve ever seen.

In this film the Joker is an absolute monster through and through. Mark somewhat underplays the villain at certain points which gives the impression that the Joker’s sadism comes from who he is rather than his lunacy.

This idea was previously explored in Mask of the Phantasm when we saw that prior to becoming the Joker, he was already a sadistic criminal who murdered Andrea’s father in cold blood.

In Return of the Joker they continue the idea that all of the silly aspects of his personality, the clown costumes, gag guns, stem from his madness, whilst all of his cruelty comes entirely from who he is. When he talks about torturing Robin and “peeling back the layers” of the boy’s mind and taunts Batman over the death of his parents, there is an eerie calmness to him right before he bursts into a fit of his trademark diabolical laughter, which suggests that actually he knows exactly what he is doing. He isn’t just some madman killing because he is divorced from reality. Sane or insane he’d always enjoy hurting people.

This is by far my favourite Batman/Joker confrontation in any medium. The Joker has never seemed more monstrous the way he not only relentlessly tortures Robin, a teenage boy, but also tries to drag him down to his level too by forcing him to shoot Batman..

After Return of the Joker, Hamill would next go on to play the villain in the Justice League animated series. This series was released after Batman Beyond Return of the Joker, but it was set many years before it, though it was also set after the earlier Batman, the New Batman Adventures and Superman animated series.

The Joker first appeared in the two parter Injustice for All. This story as its name would suggest revolves around the Injustice Gang, the evil counterpart to the Justice League.

The Joker is not asked by Lex Luthor who formed the gang to join. Understandably Lex isn’t too happy with the Joker after their last alliance. The Joker however manages to prove himself by capturing Batman and ironically is the last member of the gang to be captured, managing to knock out Wonder Woman with an exploding doll and the Flash with exploding marbles!

Its great seeing the Joker and Lex together again and thankfully this time they don’t undermine either of them. Both get their chance to shine and have brilliant scenes with their archenemies Batman and Superman.

The Joker would next appear in two cameo’s in the episodes Only A Dream part 1 (again opposite Lex Luthor) A Better World part 2 before going on to appear as the main villain in the two parter Wild Cards.

In Wild Cards the Joker takes control of the Vegas strip. He plants bombs all over it and issues a challenge to the League to disarm them. However he also sends a new group of Metahumans (whom he freed from captivity and dubbed the Royal Flush Gan) out to try and stop the League

The Joker broadcasts the Leagues battle with the Royal Flush Gang on television to millions of people all over the world. After the League disarm the bombs it is revealed that the Joker’s real plan was to use Ace, the final member of the gang who has telepathic powers to drive everyone watching insane.

Wild Cards was a brilliant send off for the DCAU Joker. It saw him become a global threat as he tried to drag the entire world into his own lunacy. In a way it made sense. The Joker was always kind of a response to Batman. Originally the Joker was just an average crook, but then he became the Joker as a result of Batman becoming a more elaborate crime fighter. Now similarly Batman has upped his game with the Justice League, a team of super powered heroes who regularly save the world, and so the Joker has put together his own team of super powered psychopaths, the Royal Flush Gang and has come up with a scheme that will allow him to threaten not just Gotham but the whole world!

Whilst Wild Card’s marked Hamill’s final performance as the Joker in the DCAU, he would go on to play the villain in many non DCAU productions.

Hamill appeared opposite Adam West as Batman in the animated short film Batman New Times. He also provided the voice for the Joker in the short lived live action series Birds of Prey. Here his voice was dubbed over actor Roger Stoneburner who the producers felt resembled the character more. The Joker only appeared in one scene where he cripples Batgirl.

Hamill also voiced the Joker in a special feature included on the special edition DVD release of Batman 1989 which depicts the origin of Robin. This scene was originally to have been included in the Burton film, but was left out at the last minute.

In 2009 Hamill voiced the Joker in the video game Batman Arkham Asylum and returned to voice the character in the 2011 sequel Batman Arkham City. Both games were massive successes critically and commercially with Hamill even winning a Video Game BAFTA for his performance in Arkham City.

Whilst Hamill stated that his performance in Arkham City would be his last, he has since returned to the role twice. First in an animated adaptation of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke.

Here Hamill was reunited with Kevin Conroy as Batman yet again. Conroy had voiced Batman throughout the entire DCAU, and also in the Arkham games opposite Hamill.

Kevin Conroy is really Mark Hamill’s greatest on screen adversary. His second would be the Empire who has fought for a longer period of time, but not as often, whilst his third would be John Wesley Shipp who he has also fought over the course of 20 years.

He and Conroy have as good a dynamic as Batman and the Joker as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing had as Dracula and Van Helsing.

The Killing Joke was easily one of Hamill’s best performances. It gave him a chance to portray a more sympathetic version of the Joker. In the DCAU we knew that the Joker had always been evil, but the origin story presented in the Killing Joke depicts the Joker as a pitiful failed comedian who is driven to the brink of sanity when his beloved wife perishes in a tragic accident. He is later pushed over the edge when he falls into the vat of chemicals that transforms him into a chalk faced ghoul.

With this version of the character Hamill gets a chance to add a tragic edge to the villain, not only in the flashbacks, but even when the Joker tortures Gordon in an attempt to drive him insane. You can tell buried underneath the madness is a trace of the decent man he once was and ironically it is that that drives him to do such horrible things in this story. The Joker knows he is a monster and still somewhere feels guilt for it. Thus the only way he can ease that guilt is to prove to himself that anyone could be as crazy as he is given the right tragic circumstances. He therefore inflicts the worst tragedy possible on Gordon to try and make him snap.

When Gordon doesn’t snap the Joker can’t take it as it makes him realise that maybe its not just the tragic circumstances the befell him. Maybe there was always a monster lurking under the surface of the seemingly harmless failed comedian and loving husband just waiting to be unleashed.

Following the Killing Joke Hamill would voice the Joker in the current Justice League animated series Justice League Action, though sadly I haven’t had a chance to see this series yet.

Hamill will always for me and so many others be the definitive Joker. Whilst he has played many great villains over the years the Joker is the one that I think he really threw himself into the most. Hamill himself has even referred to the character as his favourite role.

I hope he continues to play the role for many more years to come, but even if he doesn’t I think it can be agreed he has already had a hell of a run as the character.

The Hobgoblin/ Spider-Man The Animated Series

No one has made more puns about killing superheroes than Hamill.

Mark Hamill voiced this villain in the classic 90’s Spider-Man the animated series. The Hobgoblin was one of the shows most recurring villains overall. Whilst John Semper the producer of the series hated the Hobgoblin character from the comics, ironically he kept using him more than most other villains because he loved Hamill’s performance and working with him.

The Hobgoblin first appears in a two parter in the first season. Here the character actually manages to temporarily dethrone the Kingpin, the main villain of the series and take his place. Spider-Man is forced to go into an alliance with Norman Osborne and the Kingpin (albeit loosely) to bring the Hobgoblin down.

At first glance the Hobgoblin is somewhat similar to the Joker. He is another cackling, sadistic, flamboyant villain, but underneath he is actually a completely different character.

The Hobgoblin is not insane. He is just a money grubbing crook. All he wants is wealth and power and there is nothing he won’t do to get it. He’ll stab anyone in the back. In fact in his first appearance he manages to achieve not just a double cross, but a quadruple cross!

The fact that the Hobgoblin was merely someone with no scruples rather than an active psychopathic monster who wanted to make people suffer like the Joker, or even a power mad megolomaniac like Lex Luthor helped him stand out as quite an interesting and unique supervillain in his own right.

He didn’t always have to be the main threat in every episode he appeared in. He still could be such as in his first appearance, but in other episodes such as his season two appearance (which was also a crossover with the X-Men animated series) the Hobgoblin has merely taken advantage of the actual main villain, Doctor Landon’s scheme for his own ends.

Doctor Landon plans to exterminate all of Mutant kind with a new form of plague. No one of course knows this and to the general public at large, Landon is a benevolent scientist who wants to help Mutants. Even Beast initially believes he is a good man. Only the Hobgoblin knows what he is really doing however and blackmails him for money. The Hobgoblin is perfectly happy for Landon to commit genocide just so long as he can make a bit of money out of it!

Ironically however its the Hobgoblin that alerts Spider-Man and Wolverine to what Landon is really doing, as after Landon double crosses him, the Hobgoblin attempts to terrorise Landon in revenge which naturally draws the wallcrawlers suspicions.

Still again you can see how its interesting that on the one hand the Hobgoblin is one of the most reprehensible characters in the series as he is happy for millions of innocent men, women and children to die, on the other again he is not actively wanting to bring it about either. He is literally just indifferent to all forms of human suffering if it benefits him.

In the end the Hobgoblin ends up ironically saving mutankind (though not on purpose). He steals all of Landon’s work in a further effort to blackmail him for its safe return, but when Landon tries to take it back (and dispose of the Hobgoblin) the Hobgoblin ends up accidentally throwing Landon into a vat of chemicals in the resulting fight, which ironically mutates Landon into a 100 foot tall near unstoppable monster.

I always loved the way that the Hobgoblin fucked off after turning Landon into a monster that nearly ravaged all of New York, and took the combined efforts of the X-Men and Spider-Man to stop (even then had it not been for Landon’s assistant who was also a mutant he would have killed them all).

Again you can see how he just doesn’t care about the carnage he causes as along as he can make a profit on it. It doesn’t bother him one bit that Landon will kill thousands of people, he just flies away and leaves the X-Men and Spider-Man to clean up his mess even saying dryly.

“The chance for profit has gone and therefore so am I. So long suckers be seeing ya”

The Hobgoblins insatiable greed however proves to be his undoing in the third season. The Hobgoblin discovers a device which can open up portals and allow him to travel anywhere he wants. Naturally this proves to be useful for carrying out thefts, but when the machine begins to run out of power, the Hobgoblin is forced to go to the Kingpin for help, as only he has the resources to fix it. It was his company that built it in the first place.

The Hobgoblin thinks he can manipulate the Kingpin, but the Kingpin goes behind his back and tries to strong arm Norman Osborne into revealing the identity of the Hobgoblin. Unfortunately this ends up bringing back memories of Norman’s brief stint as the Green Goblin, causing that persona to re-emerge.

The Green Goblin subsequently attempts to kill the Hobgoblin and ends up exposing his identity to the world in the process resulting in the Hobgoblins arrest.

The Hobgoblin ironically did not need the Kingpin’s device at that point anyway. His past crimes had already given him tremendous wealth. He could have lived the rest of his life comfortably with no one, not even Spider-Man or the Kingpin coming close to discovering who he really was, but he was just so greedy he had to have more and ultimately that brought him down, and the fact that it was Norman Osborne, someone he had stabbed in the back twice because of his greed just makes it all the better.

An alternate version of the Hobgoblin would appear in the second last episode of the series. Here ironically the Hobgoblin and the Green Goblin of this universe were shown to be best friends and even worked for an evil alternate version of Spider-Man bonded to the Carnage symbiote called Spider-Carnage (how’s that for a backwards reality!).

Its kind of sad in a way as you can see from this episode how, if the Green Goblin had not been so petty in insisting that he be the only Goblin themed villain, the two Goblins could have been an unstoppable team. In this universe the two villains manage to destroy all of New York and kill everyone in the city, bar J Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson, who they only spare because they need them. They also managed to hold their own against a whole army of Spider-Men from alternate universes (including one who has Doc Ock’s tentacles).

Had our Hobgoblin and Green Goblin teamed up, then our Spider-Man would not have stood a chance.

Whilst Hamill’s Hobgoblin may not have been quite as sensational a character as his Joker, it was still a brilliant performance all around and its not hard to see why John Semper kept bringing him back.

Solomon Grundy/ Justice League

Hamill voiced this villain in the DCAU Justice League animated series. Grundy was never a main villain. He was a large, super powered, idiotic, almost child like cursed Zombie who was often nothing more than a villain for hire.

Though Grundy was an enemy of Green Lantern in the comics here he was more of a foe of Superman, as he was one of the few enemies who could pummel the man of steel.

Grundy despite being a brute, would still nevertheless manage to redeem himself in his final story which sees him not only develop an unlikely friendship with Hawkgirl, but also sacrifice himself to save the Justice League.

Grundy’s death is a somewhat touching moment as Hawkgirl comforts her former enemy in his last moments assuring him that he will finally be allowed to rest and gain his “reward”.

Wolverine/ Wolverine’s Revenge

Hamill voiced this famous Marvel superhero in his video game that was released as a tie in to X-Men 2.

The game not only depicted Wolverine’s origins but also came up with its own original story that saw the clawed mutant go up against the likes of Sabretooth, Magneto and Lady Deathstrike.

I’d say the game was definitely above average. Not an all time classic but it had a reasonably engaging story and it was fun to slice up badguys as Wolverine.

I wouldn’t say Mark was the best Wolverine. Hugh Jackman’s performance as the character has to rank as one of the all time greatest on screen heroes, whilst the definitive voice for the character is probably Cathal J Todd from the 90’s animated series.

Still Hamill’s performance has the right gruff qualities for the character and its nice to see him play a different type of hero to Luke. Wolverine and Luke, though both heroes are almost polar opposites. One a young, noble, idealistic hero, the other an older, rough looking, angry anti hero.

One final thing to mention about Mark’s Wolverine is that he is the only one who has beaten Magneto without help. Pretty incredible when you consider the fact that Magneto always curb stomps Wolverine.

To be fair its to be expected as Magneto can control metal whilst Wolverine’s entire skeleton is coated in metal! Still as we saw in Days of Future Past (which is set before the metal was laced to Wolvies bones) Even without the adamantium skeleton, Magneto is still able to curb stomp Wolverine with virtually no effort at all!

Whilst he may not be as iconic, at least Hamill’s Wolverine isn’t always Magneto’s little bitch like the Hugh Jackman version.

Gargoyle/ Hulk Animated Series

Hamill voiced this villain in the short lived 90’s Hulk animated series. Gargoyle from the start of the show was presented as being more of a bumbling, oafish character in some respects and thus it wasn’t too surprising when he ended up becoming more of a comic relief in the shows second season.

Whilst not the most memorable villain I think Mark did what he could with the relatively  minor part and brought a lot of humour and personality to the character.

Christopher Blair/ Wing Commander

One of the most popular video game heroes of the 1990’s, Hamill voiced this character in all but the second instalment of the Wing Commander video game series as well as the short lived 90’s animated series. He also played him in live action cutscenes too.

Some critics have compared Blair to Luke Skywalker. Both are space adventurers and straight forward, noble heroes, but I feel that Blair was a more mature, experienced character as opposed to the whiny teenager Luke was.

Sadly Hamill would not be asked to reprise the role for the 1999 Wing Commander live action film where Blair was played by Freddie Prinze Jr, though he did have a voice over cameo. To be fair though the film wasn’t a patch on the games so Hamill will really always be the definitive Christopher Blair.

Skips/ Regular Show

One of Hamill’s most popular roles, Skips is an immortal Yeti with a mysterious backstory and powers. Though he often has a more depressing and dour persona he does still have a strong sense of humour.

Skips often serves as the exposition guy. He knows almost everything about the supernatural.

Regular Show has proven to be one of the most successful animated series of recent years. Running for 8 seasons of 261 episodes, ironically this Yeti is the character that Hamill has played more times than any other ironically.

He is set to reprise he role in the upcoming Skips movie.

John Curtis/ Criminal Minds

The main antagonist of the 8th season of Criminal Mind’s. Curtis is a serial killer who is driven to lunacy by his own petty jealousy and failures.

By far one of the most dangerous and twisted villains in the entire series Curtis only appears in full in the two part season 8 finale.

Its undoubtedly one of Hamill’s best performances. The character isn’t just a retread of the Joker and Trickster. In some ways he is a much darker character, as he lacks the theatrical qualities those two villains had which made them somewhat likable, Curtis is a repulsive, vicious and petty character through and through.

Other Roles

Among Hamill’s other genre roles include the villainous Maximus in the 90’s Fantastic Four Animated series,  the Hannukah Zombie in Futurama and Captain America’s archenemy the Red Skull in The Superhero Squad Show.

Hamill also voiced the main antagonist Fire Lord Ozai in The Last Airbender franchise. Whilst this character proved to be one of Hamill’s most popular roles, sadly I have not seen this series so I couldn’t comment on it.

Hamill has also supplied voices for many video games too including as characters in the Kingdom of Hearts and Call of Duty series,  and as Detective Mosely, sidekick to Gabriel Knight (voiced by Tim Curry) in Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers.

In live action he has also guest starred on television series such as Chuck, Third Rock from the Sun, the remake of The Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV.

On stage meanwhile he has played roles as diverse as The Elephant Man and Mozart to great acclaim.

A truly versatile performer, Hamill has managed to earn a special place in genre stars both as one of its greatest heroes and villains.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Tribute to John Hurt

Its hard to believe he’s gone. He’s been such a constant presence on both the big and the small screen for the past 50 plus years that it almost felt like he would be here forever.

John Vincent Hurt was truly one of Britain’s greatest actors. He was a man who truly loved his craft and his passion and creativity always shone through in every role he played right until the end.

His body of work spread out across 6 decades was truly remarkable. Its impossible to pin Hurt down to one type of role. Its not easy for even the most successful of actors to avoid being typecast. So many of the greats such as Christopher Lee or Sean Connery for instance were somewhat typecast, in Lee’s case often as villains, in Connery’s often as heroes.

With Hurt however right the way through he was never known for only playing one type of character.

He was the vilest, most loathsome villains, such as the evil, psychotic, baby eating Roman Emperor Caligula, or the depraved rapist Tom in the Ghoul, or the Demonic Horned King.

Yet at the same time he was also the tragic, persecuted victim such as Quentin Crisp, John Merrick and Kane from Alien.

He was also the noble hero too such as Winston Smith, Hazel from Watership Down, and Aragorn.

At times he even deliberately played the opposite of some of his most famous earlier roles, such as when he played General Woundwort, the main villain in the Watership Down animated series, after playing the main hero Hazel in the original animated movie. He also played the fascist dictator Sutler in V for Vendetta after playing the victim of a fascist society Winston Smith in 1984.

His career was every bit as varied in his final years as it had been in his youth. He was still able to play the villain in the form of Sutler in the later years of his career, but he could also still play the victim in the form of Mr Olivander. And he was even the hero in his final years too in the shape of the War Doctor.

He also was never restricted to one medium either, appearing just as regularly on the stage, television, radio, and film. He also was in everything from political thrillers, to crime drama’s, to sci fi classics, to fantasy flicks, to horror movies, to historical epics.

Very few actors can boast such a varied body of work. Obviously with every actor it all really is down to luck in terms of the great roles they get, but still with Hurt I think that he was always someone who even at the height of his fame was willing to appear in more offbeat and low key productions. He could be in a big multi billion dollar film franchise one minute, and then in a play on BBC Radio 4 the next.

I first became a fan of Hurt’s after seeing him in I Claudius. Prior to this I had seen him in both The Ghoul and Alien. I had been impressed by his performances in both of those films, but it was really his performance as Caligula that made me desperate to track everything he had ever been in down.

He was utterly captivating as the villain. At certain points he was absolutely terrifying such as when he murders a young boy because his cough irritates him, or when he tortures Livia on her death bed, and worst of all when he devours his own child from his sisters stomach (that’s a fucked up sentence!)

At other moments though he was pitiful such as when the drumming sound in his head torments him, or when he wonders if he truly is a god to Claudius, and then there are his final undignified moments.

There were even scenes where he managed to make me laugh, such as when he made his horse a senator and the notorious dance scene.

I’d rank his Caligula as one of the greatest tv villains of all time. Even if he had never done anything else, Caligula alone would be enough to make Hurt a legend in my eyes.

Of course he later went on to become more famous for other performances that could not be more different. When I later saw him in The Elephant Man running through the streets with a bag over his head, weeping pitifully “I am not an animal. I am a human being” I couldn’t even imagine him as Caligula.

He never stopped surprising me in the diversity of roles he’d play right until the end. One minute he’d be the cruel leader of a fascist state, then the next he’d be a fire breathing Dragon smashing Camelot to pieces, then he’d be the bloody Doctor!

Whilst I am sad that there will be no more new creative and powerful performances from the great man, at the same time I am glad that we have such a long and fascinating body of work to look back on.

Whether its by Harry Potter fans, Doctor Who fans, Alien fans, Merlin fans, fans of classic television like I Claudius and classic films like The Elephant Man, John Hurt will always be remembered.

RIP John Hurt 1940-2017

Spook Catchers

Spook Catchers was a horror, fantasy series which lasted from 1987-1993. It was a crossover series which incorporated characters and story lines from various horror franchises and films.

It starred such horror icons as Peter Cushing, Bruce Campbell, Lam Ching Ying, and Christopher Lee, all reprising some of their most famous horror roles.

The series focused on Van Helsing played by Cushing leading an assortment of paranormal hunters against various monsters, which usually consist of famous horror movie characters such as Christopher Lee’s Dracula.

Popular during its initial run, the show developed a large and devoted following and has been cited as an influence on other series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Charmed.

Overview

Several years on from his ordeal in the Tennesse woods, Ash Williams has moved on with his life and is now in a relationship with a woman named Brenda.

Unfortunately for him he and Brenda are soon attacked by spirits from the Necronomicon. After Brenda is possessed, Ash overcome with grief locks her in his basement. Not wanting to lose her like his first wife, at the same time however he is unable to help her. Ash is soon contacted by a man named Lorrimer Van Helsing. Lorrimer, (who is the head of a small team of paranormal investigators) tells Ash that the book Necronomicon was discovered a few months ago by an old enemy of his named D.D. Denham.

Denham apparently hoped to summon the spirits in the book and make them into his servants but they were too strong even for his magics. Thus he was forced to send most of the Deadites back into their dimension. A few however escaped. The monsters plan to make Ash suffer for foiling their plot to take over the world in the middle ages. Van Helsing helps Ash expel the Demon from Brenda.

This turns out to be only part of the Demons plan however. They intend, through a number of blood sacrifice’s to create a portal that will allow other members of their kind into this universe. Van Helsing with the aid of his team and Ash is able to foil the Demons plans and send them back to hell.

Sadly however Ash’s life falls apart. Brenda leaves him. Though she still loves him she says she can’t deal with his past. All of his friends soon begin to leave him too when they hear rumours of him locking Brenda up in their attic. He is also fired from his job and ends up homeless.

With nothing left in his life anymore, Ash turns to Van Helsing and his Demon hunters for a purpose in life. The team consists merely of Van Helsing, his grand daughter Jessica, and a woman named Ching with a dark past. Van Helsing takes Ash on seeing potential in him, though the other members of the team have doubts.

Ash soon learns from the others that D.D. Denham is in fact the king of the Vampires himself, Count Dracula.

After Dracula and Van Helsing last fought one another in the 70’s, Dracula was resurrected by one of his minions. Dracula however longs for death, but has decided before he can rest in peace to aid his kind in claiming dominion over the earth. Whilst Dracula claims that he is only doing this in the hopes that his children will let him rest once they are rulers of the planet. Van Helsing suspects that it is because the Vampire wishes to go out in one last blaze of glory, and also because he wishes to punish his children who will not let him rest, by giving them everything they have ever wanted.

Dracula in Van Helsing’s mind believes that the Vampires will soon grow bored of their existence once they rule the world just like he did. They will have an eternal life with no end, and no struggles, nothing to work for no purpose. It will within a few centuries drive them insane with boredom.

Van Helsing and his team continue to battle Dracula who under his guise of the reclusive billionaire D. D. Denham is able to use countless resources against them.

At one point the team encounter a sorceress who has travelled from the future who warns them that the Vampires will one day rule the earth, thanks to experiments Dracula is conducting to try and remove all of their weaknesses. Fortunately Van Helsing and the rest are able to slay Dracula and destroy his experiments before this terrifying vision of the future can come to pass.

A new menace soon rises to take Dracula’s place however, Darkness. Darkness is an ancient Demon from another universe. He was destroyed in a battle whilst trying to take control of his own world. After his death however his spirit vanished into the nothingness between worlds where it is accidentally freed by a group of magic users.

They foolishly were planning to summon a Demon from another dimension and bind it to themselves in order to gain power. However they get more than they bargained for when they inadvertently summon Darkness’s spirit into our world. Darkness is able to manifest itself in our universe, physically thanks to their magic.

Darkness ironically slays most of his saviours, though one manages to escape and warn Van Helsing and his team. Darkness with the aid of his Demonic and Goblin minions that he creates, attempts to block out the sun using powerful magics. Van Helsing and the others however manage to destroy him once and for all.

During their battles with Darkness, the team recruit a new member. The Vampire hunter named Kau. Kau, who is an old friend of Ching had previously helped them battle Dracula, proves to be a highly useful member of the team due to his extensive knowledge on magic and martial arts skills.

The expanded team soon face a new adversary in the form of Damien, the son of the Devil himself. Damien plans to bring about the apocalypse and though the team manage to destroy, unfortunately the after affect of Damien’s plan causes the Dead to rise as flesh eating monsters.

Van Helsing and the others still manage to stop the Zombie infestation and save humanity once again. They next go on to battle the evil Grand High Witch, resurrected after her death in England. The Witch plans to enact a spell that will transform billions of women around the world into hideous Witch creatures just like her. Though Van Helsing and the rest are able to foil the Witches plans, the monster escapes and plans to use an ancient magical artefact capable of destroying the entire earth itself. Fortunately the team are able to use its power against her and vaporise her into nothing.

The team next travel to China to take on a bigger adversary. Dragons! They discover that Dragons are in fact Angels who many centuries ago broke the Angels most sacred laws of non interference. Angels are prevented from changing the course of human history. They can interfere only under special circumstances. The Dragons however decided to interfere as in their mind they believed that they could build a better world. Ultimately they were defeated by the rest of the Angels and imprisoned, but they entered in Chinese mythology as deities. One of their followers manages to free some of the monsters from their imprisonment, but fortunately our heroes are able to banish the monsters back to their prison before they can take over the earth.

The presence of the Dragons however leads to more people becoming aware of the supernatural. Though the government attempts to cover it up things become a lot more awkward for the gang from this point on as they face their final adversary, Mephistopheles. 

Mephistopheles is a Demon more powerful and dangerous than even Satan himself. He is also responsible for the creation of many of the monster races the team have fought over the years such as Vampires and Witches. Mephistopheles plans to destroy the earth, the heavens and hell itself before building a new world in their place that he will rule. The team are forced to work alongside many Angels and Demons in order to finally take down the monster. 

The series ends with Mephistopheles death and the team vowing to continue to fight the good fight against the forces of darkness.

Characters

Lorrimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing)

The teams leader. Cushing had previously played this character in two Hammer films in the 1970’s, Dracula AD 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Lorrimer is the grandson of the original version of Van Helsing (here referred to as Lawrence Van Helsing, rather than Abraham).

Van Helsing is really the heart of the show. He is the glue that holds the team together during tight spots. That was always the best thing about Cushing’s Van Helsing was how his will was made of absolute iron. He always kept his cool, even when jamming a burning piece of iron into his neck in The Brides of Dracula.

Here it is no different. Van Helsing serves as the inspiration to the rest of the team being the oldest and most experienced hunter, he is often the one who is able to sort out disputes with the rest of the team. Sadly however Cushing’s advanced age often meant that the character was unable to take part in the action scenes, but he was still always shown to be a useful member of the team.

Whilst the series kept everything that was great about Cushing’s Van Helsing from the films, I feel they were also able to expand on his character somewhat by exploring his relationship with his grand daughter Jessica, as well as his brother Lewis. I also really enjoyed his fatherly relationship with Ash too. Cushing and Campbell had surprisingly good chemistry.

Lorrimer marked Cushing’s final performance. He sadly died not long after the show had finished. Its somewhat fitting however that his last performance was not only one of his best, but also playing his most famous character Van Helsing.

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell)

Reprising his role from Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, Ash is often the butt monkey of the team. Whenever they have to have someone screw up, or get hurt or captured sadly its often Ash.

Still this is in keeping with his character from the Evil Dead films. Part of Ash’s appeal was that he was a screw up with a heart of gold, and the show gives him enough heroic moments that you don’t wonder why the team keep him around at all.

Over the course of the series Ash is shown to develop a father/son relationship with Lorrimer and a romantic relationship with Ching.

Of all the main characters in the series, Ash was undoubtedly the most popular. A combination of Campbells strong performance and also the fact that Ash was a somewhat more ordinary, flawed character I think made him more accessible to audiences.

Bruce Campbell played the character of Ash in the movie Army of Darkness during the making of the series. This film was intended to bridge the gap between Evil Dead 2 in explaining how Ash got back from the middle ages. Campbell would later go on to reprise the role once again in the television series Ash vs Evil Dead.

Jessica Van Helsing (Joanna Lumley)

Reprising her role from The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Jessica Van Helsing was portrayed as more proactive in this series, being an expert on the occult and a skilled hand to hand fighter (though not as much as Ching or Kau). Joanna Lumley was of course excellent in the role and brought a real sense of sophistication and vulnerability to the character. I always enjoyed the scenes with her and Ash who she had something of a brother/sister dynamic with. Ash obviously felt like the younger, more irresponsible brother compared to Jessica.

One of ways in which Jessica’s back story was more fleshed out compared to previous appearances was through the story arc about her parents. In her previous film appearances it was never revealed why she was living with her grandfather, but in this series we find out that her parents were murdered by a Demon (with her grandfather keeping the knowledge secret from her in order to try and give her a normal life). The Demon named Azakahn in question played by David Warner would go on to be a major villain throughout the series.

Ching (Michelle Yeoh)

This character originated in the Chinese fantasy film The Heroic Trio. She was depicted initially as a villainous character who helped her evil Demonic Master capture infants. Ultimately however over the course of the film she learns the error of her ways and helps to bring the monster down.  Chings guilt and shame over her previous actions as well as her dark past would play a role in shaping her character throughout this series.

Ching was by far and away the darkest character in the series. Not only through her villainous past, but even as hero she was shown to be far more brutal in dealing with her enemies and more willing to take serious risks with her team mates lives. Her relationship with Ash however would gradually show a more softer side to her however, though she would still often clash with other members of the team more often.

The role of Ching would help launch Michelle Yeoh’s career in the west. Following this she would win major roles in films such as Tomorrow Never Dies.

The character of Ching would also be featured in a sequel to The Heroic Trio called the Executioners. This film however ignored the events of this series. At the start of the series it is said that Ching parted ways with the other two members of The Heroic Trio. Overcome with guilt at what she had done whilst serving her evil Master she had a full mental breakdown. Later after her recovery she left her home city as she felt she let her sisters down and wanted to start a new.

She is later reunited with them in the second and final season with both Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung reprising their roles from the original Heroic Trio film.

Master Kau (Lam Ching Ying)

Reprising his role from the famous Mr Vampire film series, Lam Ching Ying was as excellent as ever as the Vampire busting Taoist priest. Still at times I felt that the inclusion of the “Mr Vampire” character threatened to undermine Van Helsing, as here was another older Vampire expert just like him.

Still seeing what were undoubtedly cinema’s two greatest Vampire hunters share the screen with one another was brilliant and through Kau’s expert knowledge of paranormal I feel they were able to bring in more Eastern myths about Vampires and Demons which was interesting.

Kau did not appear in the first series as a regular. He only appeared as a guest star in a single episode, but the characters popularity ensured that he would return as a regular the following year.

Lewis Van Helsing (Jon Pertwee)

Lorrimers older brother, Lewis was never a regular, but he did recur throughout the show. He and his brother were shown to have a complicated relationship.

Lewis was originally the brother who carried on their grandfather and father’s legacy. Whilst his brother Lorrimer had an interest in the occult he ultimately did not want to fall into the same harsh violent and unforgiving life that his father had. He married a woman named Lenore and had two children with her, a boy named Luke and a girl named Louise.

Unfortunately for Lorrimer his brother would occasionally ask him for help in dealing with the paranormal. Both had been raised with an extensive knowledge of the occult by their father.

The two were able to find a way to trap the legendary Demon Azakhan. Whilst Lorrimer wished to perform a spell that would banish him back to his own reality, Lewis wanted to try and find a way to destroy the Demon permanently, believing that sooner or later he would find a way to return. Sadly for Lewis, Azakhan managed to escape their trap and murdered Lorrimers children in response. Jessica who was just an infant survived the attack, simply because the Demon was unaware of her presence upstairs.

Lorrimer would take Jessica in and look after her. He didn’t speak to his brother for decades after. Ironically however at the same time Lorrimer would follow in his brothers foot steps in that he began to devote himself to studying and fighting the supernatural. He was determined not to let what happened to his children happen to anyone else.

In the series Lewis and Lorrimer end up working together again though their relationship is frosty at first, they do begin to reconcile.

Lewis Van Helsing was a great foil for Lorrimer. Pertwee and Cushing had an instant chemistry and a way of joking around with each other that was delightful, yet at the same time there were also some very tense scenes between the two men too, with it being apparent that Lorrimer would never truly forgive his brother. I also think it was one of Jon Pertwee’s best performances as on the one hand he seemed like his usual arrogant self, but underneath you could see he was a man genuinely tormented by his failure to protect his family.

Count Dracula (Christopher Lee)

The main villain from the shows first season. Christopher Lee was initially reluctant to reprise his most famous role and decided to only because he wanted to work with his old friend Peter Cushing, and realised it could be his last chance.

In this series Dracula was portrayed as a more pessimistic character longing for eternal rest. This was in keeping with his characterisation in his last film appearance “The Satanic Rites of Dracula”. Much like in that film Dracula also goes by the alias of the reclusive billionaire D.D. Denham and uses his wealth and influence against Van Helsing and the others.

Dracula’s master plan is to find a way to eliminate all the weaknesses of the Vampire in order to allow them to take over the earth, with Dracula naturally planning to kill himself before his weaknesses can be taken away.

Whilst Dracula claims that he believes his children will let him rest once they have gotten what they want, Van Helsing suspects that the Vampire king actually intends to punish them by making them unkillable and giving them control of the earth where they will have everything they could ever want as soon they will get bored. A life with no struggle, no need to work for anything, no purpose or reason, yet at the same time no end would eventually drive anyone mad.

Dracula is eventually slain in the climactic season 1 finale before his plans can be put into operation, with Lorrimer Van Helsing himself slaying the monster. The character does not return in any subsequent seasons.

Though Christopher Lee may have been reluctant to play Dracula again I actually think this was one of his best performances. He was just as menacing as ever, but he also brought a real weariness and nihilstic quality to the monster this time which was interesting. I also feel that this series gave him far more scenes with Peter Cushing than the films. Any scene with these two legendary actors is just dynamite, and the two are really able to flesh out the Van Helsing/Dracula relationship like never before. We see just how much Dracula truly hates his enemy, with it in many ways being his hatred of Van Helsing that keeps him going more than anything else.

Overall I felt his series served as a good send off to what was ultimately the most iconic version of Stokers famous Vampire alongside Bela Lugosi’s.

Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame)

The secondary antagonist of the shows first season. Neame originally played this role in the movie Dracula AD 1972 where the Vampire met his end at Van Helsings hands in a shower! Here the Vampire is said to have been revived and is now Dracula’s second in command.

Neame isn’t quite as over the top in this series as he was in Dracula AD. Though I personally loved his performance in Dracula AD I think it was probably for the best that he underplayed the Vampire in this series as it wasn’t quite as camp in tone as Dracula AD.

Alucard generally just tended to function as Dracula’s second in command, but there were a few episodes where he got to play a more central role. The villain was killed off by Ash at the end of the first season.

Darkness (Tim Curry)

The main villain of the second series. Tim Curry originally played this character in the 1985 fantasy classic Legend. Darkness’s plan is essentially the same in this series as it was in Legend. In both instances the Demon plans to block out the sun in order to allow his army of monsters to sweep the earth. Darkness I felt was an excellent choice for one of the main villains as he was not only visually stunning, but he also was a slightly more unusual choice as he was a fairy tale villain who lived in a totally fantastical environment. Seeing him suddenly transported into a big modern city was quite an interesting contrast.

Tim Curry of course was brilliant as always as the Demon and simply dominates any scene he is in. The make up for the beast was also every bit as stunning as it had been for Legend too.

Damien Thorn (Mark Hamill)

The main villain of the third season. Damien originally appeared in the iconic Omen film series, though this version only follows on from the first Omen film.

Here Damien is portrayed as a man and has completely embraced his Demonic side. Damien plans to bring about the apocalypse and succeeds in causing the dead to rise which serves as the story arc for season 4 after Damien is destroyed.

Mark Hamill was truly excellent in the role. In contrast to many of the more crazy and over the top villains he would later become known for playing, Damien is a more eerily subdued, calm performance. He almost doesn’t react when murdering people as it comes so naturally to him.

Bob Logan (Joe Pilato) 

The 4th series doesn’t really have a singular main villain. Instead it focuses on our heroes trying to prevent a Zombie apocalypse. Still this character does play a major role in the 4th series. He is a former criminal who takes control of a group of outlaws in the town of Lebston. Lebston is the first place the Zombies take over, but our heroes soon discover that the plague is spreading.

Bob is an utter psychopath. He actually likes the Zombies as it was because of them that he was able to escape from prison. Thus he does not want the situation they have created to end. Of course ultimately he ends up getting torn to pieces by the Zombies. His death is by far and away the most gruesome of all the main villains.

The character was an obvious homage to the role of Captain Rhodes, the main villain in Day of the Dead who was also played by Joe Pilato. The entire 4th season was a massive love letter to the George A Romero Zombie films and so Pilato’s casting was really the shows ultimate tribute to their legacy.

Pilato is as good as Logan as he was as Rhodes. With Rhodes he gave us a character who seemed as though he had been driven over the edge by the horrific circumstances he found himself in. With Logan however he was more of an opportunistic psychopath who gloried in the chaos the Zombies were creating.

The Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston)

The main antagonist of the shows 5th season. Huston originally played this character in the 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s famous novel The Witches.

This series which is set many years later reveals that she was brought back to life by one of her followers. She initially tries to cast a huge spell that will transform billions of women into Witches who will slaughter their own children. She had apparently been working on this plan for centuries.

Ultimately however Van Helsing and the others foil her scheme, but she later returns to try gain control of a powerful magical artefact which has the power to rip the earth to pieces. By this point the Witch has become so insane after her masterplan was foiled that she now wants to end all life on earth. Once again however the team are able to foil her plans and use the power from the artefact to completely vaporise her into nothing.

This series greatly expanded on the Witches character and backstory. We discover that the Grand High Witch was originally a servant of Mephistopheles in life who was turned into the first of a new breed of Demon as a reward for all of the horrors she committed. As the first of her kind she would go on to transform more women into Witches like her who became her followers. The Witches were created to target children above all else.

The Witch was an excellent villain. She always terrified me in the Witches and I thought Huston was equally menacing in this series as she got to explore what it was that really made the twisted villain tick.

Mei Long (Voice of Charles Dance)

The main villain of the 6th season, Mei Long was a Dragon, brought to life through the fantastic stop motion effects of Ray Harryhausen and voiced by the wonderful Charles Dance.

The character was presented as a more sympathetic villain in that he did genuinely believe that his evil was for a greater good. He also was never shown to kill unless he had to and even mourned some of his own victims! Despite this however the character was still presented as a monster willing to slaughter billions in order to build his perfect world.

The character of Mei Long allowed the series to explore Chinese myths about Dragons and I think it was interesting particularly after the Witch to have a more sympathetic villain.

Mephistopheles (Clancy Brown)

The main villain of the 7th and final season. Mephistopheles is presented as the ultimate evil behind many of the shows other monster races. Clancy Brown was of course the perfect choice for such a villain.

It was a shame that they didn’t use a famous film monster for the final season, but still I think that Mephistopheles served as a brilliant foe for the series to finish on. His character was fairly straight forward, but Brown’s undeniable screen presence really helped to elevate the character and help him live up to being the baddest of the bad.

Azakhan (David Warner)

One of the shows most recurring villains. Azakhan was never one of the shows main villains, but he did play an important role in the Van Helsing’s story arc.

Azakhan is a Demonic trickster. He loves stirring up trouble between human beings and watching them fight with one another. Unlike many other Demons in the series he does not wish to destroy humanity, describing them as his favourite play things. He even in one instance aids the team in battling a threat to the world as a result.

Azakhan is responsible for the deaths of Jessica’s parents, as well as Lorrimer’s son and daughter.

He murders them after Lorrimer and Lewis capture Azakhan. Whilst Lorrimer wishes to banish the Demon back to hell, Lewis instead wants to try and find a way to vanquish him. Unfortunately Lewis underestimates Azakhan and he manages to escape after which he kills both of Lorrimers children, including Jessica’s mother as well as her husband.

It is later revealed that Azakhan did this in the hopes of making Lorrimer turn on his brother, rather than just as an act of vengeance.

This was kept secret from Jessica who was just a baby at the time for many years until the start of the series.

Azakhan I think was a brilliant foe for the Van Helsing family. Much like Dracula his feud with them was personal, though he was more of an archenemy to Jessica above all else. David Warner was brilliant as the character and brought a real playful, yet sadistic quality to the villain.

Susan Irvine (Jane Horrocks)

A recurring character throughout the shows 5th season. Irvine originated in the 1990 film adaptation of the Witches. She was originally a Witch who at the end of the film turns good and transforms Luke from a mouse back into a young boy.

In this series set many years later Irvine is trying to atone for her crimes and helps the main characters against the Witch. Her backstory is also revealed. She was turned into a Witch by the Grand High Witch herself. The Grand High Witch did not wish to turn her originally. The Witches generally tend to seek out women who have darkness in their hearts already to turn into members of their own kind.

In Irvine’s case however they made an exception as at that point they were low in number and desperate. Irvine after being turned was told to murder her own child by the Grand High Witch, but she could not do it. The Grand High Witch thought about desposing of her for this, but decided to spare Irvine when she realised that if Irvine managed to resist their dark magic then it might send a message that good is stronger than evil.

Thus she became more determined to break her and drag her down to their level. She eventually succeeded and Irvine became just another evil Witch until the Grand High Witch herself was slain (at the end of the events of the Witches). Finally free from her influence, Irvine would try and atone for her past sings, first by curing Luke and then by using her powers to battle other Witches across the world.

In this series she is shown to work alongside a now grown up Luke, as both seek to finally destroy the Witch. She is later forced to sacrifice herself to help foil the monsters plans.

I’d rank Irvine as Horrock’s best performance. The character is one of the most interesting aspects of the shows 5th season as we see her struggle to try and find redemption. The sequence where she is haunted by the ghosts of the children she helped to murder is by far and away one of the most disturbing scenes in the entire series.

I also really liked her friendship with Ching. The two characters at first could not seem more different, but ultimately both were able to bond over the fact that the two women had once been enslaved to an evil monster and were now trying to make up for it.

Luke Eveshim (Simon Pegg)

The main protagonist from the Witches. In this series set many years later the character is now an adult, who has been hunting Witches (and other supernatural creatures) for the past few decades.

The series states that his grandmother passed away in her sleep a few years after the Witches, after which he would later reunite with Irvine who would go on to raise him as her own. Throughout the series Luke is still shown to view Irvine as a mother figure.

Luke recurs throughout the shows 5 and 7th seasons. He was quite an interesting link to the original Witches film, but overall I felt that the character didn’t really stand out as much as he was often just another monster expert. I did enjoy Simon Pegg’s performance. He showed promise even from this very early stage in his career. I also liked Luke’s relationship with Irvine too. At times it could feel a little bit odd as Simon Pegg was close to the same age as Jane Horrocks herself (as her character did not age). Still I think the two had a great chemistry and the final moment between Luke and Irvine is definitely one of the most moving moments in the entire series. Poor Luke loses three mothers essentially, his real mother, his grandmother and finally Irvine.

Professor Victor Frankenstein (Brian Cox) 

One of horrors most iconic characters overall. Professor Frankenstein is more of a minor recurring foe throughout the series. This version of the character was clearly based on Peter Cushing’s version of Frankenstein. He is depicted as a villain who has kept himself alive for over 100 years by transplanting his brain into other people’s bodies when they break down.

Over the years the Professor is said to have been behind many great technical advances for the human race, though at the same time he also worked with the Nazi’s too and was responsible for many of their greatest weapons.

It is hinted that he is the same version as Peter Cushing’s but it is never conformed. Whilst Frankenstein was never a major villain, I still enjoyed Brian Cox’s performance. He wasn’t quite the evil bastard that Cushing was, but still he really captured the characters fanaticism and ruthlessness.

Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie)

A recurring character who appeared in the shows 2nd and final seasons. Jareth originally appeared in the Jim Henson classic “Labyrinth”. This version of the character however is shown to be more sympathetic.

It is said that Jareth has since abandoned being the king of the Goblins and has now settled down and married a woman named Catherine (played by Katey Sagal) with whom he has a son. Unfortunately for Jareth Darkness plans to murder him in order to gain control of his Goblin kingdom. Whoever kills the king of the Goblins will take his place. Though the team try and protect Jareth and his family, ultimately Darkness proves to be too strong and Jareth is forced to go back to being the king of the Goblins in order to protect his wife and son.

He later returns in the final season to help the team against Mephistopheles. Jareth was an odd choice for the show. He was a fairy tale villain, and also whilst Labyrinth was not a kids film, the puppets he commanded over would have looked out of place in this show. Its for this reason that perhaps not surprisingly the puppets only appear fleetingly.

Still Jareth’s first appearance is a truly brilliant episode. David Bowie really gives it his all as Jareth is put through an emotional rollercoaster when he is ripped from his ordinary life by Darkness and forced to return to a world he hates.

Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund)

A minor recurring villain, Krueger appears in just 6 episodes, but he was in 3 seasons overall.

The character remained completely true to his film portrayals, with Englund even reprising his role.

Though he was only used fleetingly personally I enjoyed all of his appearances and would rank him as one of the best villains of the series.

Top 10 Episodes

10/ The King of Goblins

From the second season, this episode sees Darkness attempt to kill Jareth the king of the Goblins from our reality in order to gain control of them to use in his plans. It is said whoever kills the King of the Goblins will take control of his forces.

Unfortunately Jareth had left the kingdom of the Goblins many years ago. He grew tired of them and fled to the world of man where he fell in love with a human woman named Catherine (played by Katey Sagal). The team have to protect Jareth from Darkness, but eventually Jareth realises that the only way he can ensure his family (who Darkness targets) safety is to return to the kingdom of the Goblins and use their power to protect his loved ones.

There are some problems with this episode. Namely the Goblins from Labyrinth who look a bit out of place in the final scene (which is the only sequence they appear). Still overall this episode has to rank as one of the best purely down to David Bowie’s performance. The final showdown between Darkness and Jareth is also one of the best sequences in the series.

Seeing David Bowie and Tim Curry in the same scene alone is enough to make this episode brilliant.

9/ The Rise of the Anti Christ

The season 3 finale, this episode sees Azakhan and the team mount an unlikely alliance to stop Damien from unleashing the four horsemen of the apocalypse who are revealed to be destructive forces rather than individual monsters.

I liked this episode for many reasons. It was great having to watch the Van Helsing’s team up with the monster that destroyed their lives. Warner plays it brilliantly the way Azakhan relishes in the fact that the Van Helsings can’t lay a finger on him when they want to tear him to bits.

Mark Hamill is also excellent as Damien too. He seems completely in control and 5 steps ahead of our heroes and even Azakhan throughout the episode.

I also like the way this episode leads into the next series. After Damien is destroyed it becomes apparent to the audience (though not the main characters) that the death force has been unleashed which is what ultimately creates the Zombies in season 4.

8/ The Undead Assassin

A season 1 episode, and the first appearance of Lam Ching Ying’s Mr Vampire in the series. In this episode Dracula sends for a notorious Jiang Shi breed of Vampire to finish off Van Helsing and his friends. This Jiang Shi though still largely as single minded as an animal, nevertheless possess limited intelligence which has allowed it to become a famous assassin.

The Jiang Shi is as an almost unstoppable monster forcing Ching to call for her old friend Kau to help them deal with it. Even with Kau’s help however the Jiang Shi proves to be a truly formidable adversary.

I’ve always loved hopping Vampire films and this episode really tries to capture the spirit of the Mr Vampire movies as best it can. The Jiang Shi is like a Vampiric Terminator the way it just plows through absolutely everything and the final fight with Kau directing the team to slay it is amazing.

7/ No Escape From A Ghost Town

From season 4, this is the last appearance of Logan in the series and probably his best. With his “empire” fallen, Logan and the last of his followers manage to capture Ash and issue a challenge to the rest of the team to try and find him. The only problem aside from the Zombies is the fact that the government intends to bomb the town in a few hours.

I loved this episode so much. Its a nice twist the way Ching is the most determined to save Ash considering how she is normally the most ruthless member of the team. It really shows how much she cares about him.

Joe Pilato is truly excellent. His character just goes completely off the rails in this episode. The scenes where he tortures Ash are really quite brutal, but this just makes his death all the more satisfying when Ash blows his knee caps off with his boom stick and leaves him to be torn to pieces.

6/ The Cursed Castle

From season 5, this episode sees the Grand High Witch trap Van Helsing and Ching in a painting of a castle along with a powerful Demon. The two also discover an old man in the castle who says that he was trapped here as a child.

The episode plays around an idea from Dahl’s original book and the film adaptation of the Witches trapping children in paintings. It was always by far and away one of the most disturbing aspects of both the film and the book and here we are taken into the idea in a much greater detail.

The man Van Helsing and Ching encounter in the painting is completely insane. It is revealed via flashback how the Grand High Witch herself snatched him as a boy. She approached him when he was playing in his garden. The boy only went with her because she knew his name. The Witch of course then trapped him in a painting of a castle where he has remained ever since. The man has gone completely insane, having been trapped in one little castle, with no company, no forms of entertainment but still being able to see the outside world for over 70 years.

Its probably the most genuinely frightening episode with the flashback scenes of the Witch luring the boy away never failing to send a shiver down my spine.

5/ World of the Dead

A two parter from season 1, this episode sees a sorcerer travel backwards in time to try and slay Dracula before he manages to find a way to remove the Vampires weaknesses which allows them to take over the world.

Her plan fails however despite the team helping her. Things become more complicated when the spell that sent her back in time wears off and she is brought back to the future along with the rest of the team who are near her at the time.

The second part of the episode sees our heroes have to survive in the Vampire ruled future before they are able to travel backwards in time. The spell that sends them back does not wear off in their case as they travel back to their correct time.

This episode though a little far fetched, (even by the standards of the show) is still a thrilling adventure. My favourite part is definitely when we see the Vampire ruled future. Its kind of a loose adaptation of I Am Legend in a way.

Dracula still rules the Vampires in the future. We find out that one of Dracula’s worst enemies injected him with his own serum before he could kill himself in order to condemn him to the eternal life her feared. As a result of this Dracula is even more crazed and ruthless in the future than ever before. Here Lee gets a chance to revisit his more feral, crazed version of the character. Up until now his Dracula was more reserved, more of a mastermind, but his performance in this movie is akin to Scars of Dracula with the Vampire being absolutely out of control at this point.

4/ Darkness Rising

The first episode of season 2 that introduces Darkness to the show. The gang are alerted when a new group of Goblins and Demons unlike any from our reality start appearing. They later discover from the last of the sorcerers who accidentally brought him into our universe, that the monsters are the creation of a Demon overlord, Darkness.

The build up to Darkness’s appearance is great as we initially only hear Tim Curry’s booming voice coming down the corridors in the flashback when he first arrives in our universe and starts slaughtering the sorcerers who brought him here.

When he finally does appear its an incredible sequence. He curb stomps Ching, and tears Ash’s chainsaw hand clean off and smashes it to bits!

The gang also fail to save the last of the sorcerers who accidentally brought Darkness into our universe. The fact that he is one of the few monsters who completely defeats them really helps to set him up as a legitimate menace for the rest of the season.

My favourite moment is when Darkness murders the last of the sorcerers who brought him into this world and she begs for mercy, telling Darkness that he owes her as he would still be trapped in the nothingness between worlds if it were not for her. Darkness responds that he knows and that’s why he is killing her now to spare her living in the world he intends to create.

3/ Demons of the Past

The first story of the entire series, this two part episode does a great job of setting the series up. The Deadites serve as the main villains of the episode (though from the start its obvious that there is something else at play here, which fans of Satanic Rites of Dracula will recognise as the Count. D. D. Denham!)

Still the Deadites are their usual, crazy, disgusting selves and there are some nice call backs to the first two Evil Dead films. Its probably one of Bruce Campbell’s best acting performances as he gets to show a more sensitive and caring side to Ash . Later episodes portray him as more of a goofball and an idiot but in this episode I feel Bruce Campbell is able to flesh him out a bit and portray Ash as a more conflicted, tormented character struggling to get over the horrors of his past.

2/ The Evil Master

A sequel to The Heroic Trio, this season 3 episode sees Ching reunited with her two comrades to face her old archenemy, the Evil Master.

In The Heroic Trio, The Evil Master was capturing infants in the hopes of transforming one of them who was destined to be the Emperor into a Demon and rule through him. Here it is revealed that the Master was in fact serving a higher level Demon himself.

This Demon would have been born into our world (which it could easily have taken over) through one of the infants, with the others becoming his army. The Master had been preparing this plan for centuries but ultimately he failed thanks to the efforts of the Trio who saved the babies and vanquished him.

As a punishment he was sealed at the bottom of the darkest, deepest pit of hell. However the Evil Master manages to escape and travel back to our world as a spirit. Here he plans to not only avenge himself on the Trio but also through magic trick the Demon into thinking that Ching is the Master so she will be taken to hell instead.

This episode is a great sequel to the original film. Maggie Cheung and Anita Muih are on top form as usual and there are some touching moments between the three women. This episode also really explores Ching’s dark past like never before when the Evil Master in an effort to torture her, shows her what became of the family whose child she accidentally caused the death of in the first trio film. Its probably Yeoh’s best performance in the entire series as being made to face the consequences of her actions absolutely destroys her.

The other two members of the Trio who continue crime fighting at the end of this episode would go on to appear in more episodes of the later series, but I’d say this was their strongest appearance in the show.

1/ The Witch’s Redemption

The final appearance of Irvine in the series. This episode sees her die whilst helping the team foil the Grand High Witch’s plan to turn billions of women into Witches.

There’s some really stunning visuals in this episode and the Witches look absolutely terrifying too. Anjelica Huston is mesmerising as always as the Witch, but I think its really Jane Horrocks who steals the show.

Her characters death brings her story full circle and is definitely one of the most moving moments in the series. Whilst her character may have been a canon foreigner in the film that displeased Roald Dahl; ironically I think she was one of the best things in this series.

Review

Spook Catchers I feel maintained a consistent quality right the way through its run. It benefited from having not only fantastic leading characters, but effective villains too.

However having said that I do feel that the earlier series were perhaps somewhat stronger. I think that the problem with some of the later series for me was that they tended to focus too much on the relationship between Ching and Ash at the expense of both the other characters and the fantasy elements.

The earlier years I feel managed to balance all 4 and later 5 leads quite well. I didn’t dislike the romance between Ching and Ash. I can see why it was so popular with the fans. Yeoh and Campbell had brilliant chemistry with one another and their relationship helped to show a softer side to both characters which was quite nice, but sadly I think it did take over the show to an extent.

Still it must be said that all of the character got their chance to shine and they all played off of each other brilliantly too.

The best thing that can be said for the series however was the way it managed to blend so many different types of characters and stories together. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are a totally different generation and style to Bruce Campbell, whilst the likes of Legend and The Heroic Trio are totally different genres to horror. Still the series managed to find a way to blend them all together to great effect.  It embraced their differences, it used them in the case of the main characters to provide an interesting source of conflict. We had the rash and impulsive Ash play opposite the reserved and sophisticated Van Helsing, the ruthless Ching clash with the more compassionate Jessica.

The wide range of monsters from fairy tale creatures like Darkness, to classic Gothic horror characters such as Dracula, to supervillains such as The Evil Master, to villains from children’s books such as The Grand High Witch allowed the series in turn to have a great variation in terms of stories and constantly reinvent itself as well.

Overall I’d rank the series as a classic. It featured some of the best performances from the most iconic stars of the genre and managed to bring together a large assortment of different characters and worlds in an interesting way.

Legacy and Sequels

Spook Catchers would prove to be very influential on subsequent series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.It was the first series to feature story arcs that focused on a singular villain every season. This formula would later be popularised by Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the Big Bad formula. The show also along with Babylon 5 helped to popularise story arcs in general among genre series.

The producers of Once Upon A Time have also cited the series as an influence too, stating that they tried to emulate its style of bringing different characters from classic stories together in the same universe.

Spook Catchers would also spawn a few sequels and follow ups too. Ash vs The Evil Dead would premier in 2015 almost 30 years after Spook Catchers. It is conformed to be a sequel by the producers, though there haven’t been as many references to the original series so far, this series establishes that Ash at some point left the team after Van Helsings death, with his relationship with Ching coming to an end.

Finally three specials centred on the character of Jessica Van Helsing aired in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Joanna Lumley reprised her role, though none of the other cast members were featured but events from the show were frequently referenced.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Christmas From Burrunjor!

I’d like to wish all my regular followers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for sticking with me throughout 2016. This blogs popularity has continued to grow throughout this year. It has now reached well over 110 thousand hits. Whilst I will be devoting a lot of my time to my new fiction blog “The Secret Lives of Vampire Killers”, in 2017 I will not forget about this place either and hope to share new content with you very soon.

In the meantime here’s a Christmas Vampire story from my other blog. I only wrote this in a few days so I didn’t have as much time to go over it as I would have liked. Next year I’ll start my festive horror on the first of December.

Still let me know what you think if you have the time and have a fabulous holiday season.

All I Want For Christmas Is Blood

Thanks for reading.

Why Wolverine is The Most Popular X-Man

Wolverine is without question the most popular and iconic member of the Marvel superhero team, the X-Men.

He has appeared in every single form of other media that the team has, from films to animated series to video games, and has carried both his own spin off comic and film series.

However why does this one particular X-Man stand out so much from the rest? Well that’s what I am going to explore in this article here. I freely admit that Wolverine is my favourite X-Man too, but I will try and look at things in an objective way here as to why this particular character has a near universal appeal.

He Is Not Too Powerful

Who would have thought that was his weakness.

I think that sometimes a problem with the X-Men is that their powers do tend to be too great.

Storm can summon up the lightening, Professor Xavier can take control of people’s minds, Nightcrawler can teleport in at will, Cyclops can blast people from several feet away. It can be hard to have characters like that ever be in any danger. Cyclops should realistically just be able to blast anyone before they can get near him. Likewise the Professor can just take control of his enemies, Storm can just blast them away, whilst no one should be able to land a hit on Nightcrawler.

Wolverine meanwhile I feel has the right balance. He is not so weak that he can’t fight, but at the same time he can’t just zap his opponents from a distance or teleport away any time someone tries to hurt him. He can be beaten up if need be, but he’s not incapable of fighting some of the most powerful Marvel characters like The Hulk too.

I think this might be part of why writers tend to focus on him more than other characters as its easier to have him be involved in exciting fight scenes. With Storm for instance against an enemy like Sabretooth, either he will get the drop on her and corner her and then she has no chance, or she will see him coming and just zap him.

Also the fact that Wolverine can heal means the writers can have a lot more fun in giving him all kinds of gruesome injuries and he can recover from them, which in one case included having his skeleton ripped out!

At least he wasn’t covered in scorpions this time.

Another advantage of Wolverine’s healing factor is that for people who don’t like Wolverine they can enjoy watching him get shredded, beaten, crushed, his bones broken, over and over again. However for those of us who like Wolverine, we also enjoy watching him get shredded, beaten, crushed, his bones broken over and over again, as he always comes back.

In the above video, though Magneto might scoff at Wolverine “so much for being a survivor“. Guess what Eric? He survived that attempt on his life no problem!

He Has A Larger More Mysterious Backstory

Due to being 150 years old, Wolverine naturally has a much longer backstory to explore than the rest of the team.

The fact that when we first meet him very little of it is known has also I think made him an attractive characters to both fans and writers alike.

There were so many interesting things to explore when we first get to know him. How old is he? How did the adamantium get coated to his bones? Why doesn’t he remember his past? Why do he and Sabretooth hate each other so much?

Of course that’s not to say that other members of the team don’t have interesting backstories either. Indeed I think the X-Men as a whole are very well fleshed out characters.

However in Wolverine’s case I think certain aspects of his origin can really serve as the basis for entire films in their own right, such as the weapon X program which served as the basis for much of X2 and the first Wolverine film.

Its hard to imagine Scott Summers origin being strong enough to carry a film. In X-Men Apocalypse for instance his origin is really only a minor part at the start and then that’s that. He’s joined the team and really is no different to how he is later.

His Feud with Sabretooth

Wolverine is one of the few X-Men alongside Charles Xavier himself who has his own personal archenemy, Sabretooth.

The Wolverine/Sabretooth feud is one of the most brutal in all of comic books. However its also one of the most mysterious. For many years we didn’t even know why these two always hated each other so much, with Sabretooth being suspected of being everything from Wolverine’s brother to his father (though both of these theories were recently debunked).

The fact that their past together is so mysterious is a large part of why it has been so fascinating. What could have provoked such hatred between the two men? Why is Sabretooth so desperate to prove he is superior to Logan.

This along with the unanswered questions about Logan’s long, 100 year past really I think made him more of a natural to star in his own solo series.

Taken out of context, this sounds like a rather odd thing to want do to Sabretooth bub!

Visually He Is Stunning

Wolverine’s design is brilliant in my opinion. On the one hand its not just a monster or a weird animal man like say Nightcrawler, but on the other he is not just an ordinary human with a funny costume. Well okay he does have a funny costume but still his civilian look is part man, part animal and even part machine. There are certain animal characteristics about his looks. Some big like having claws, some subtle like his excess hair, elongated upper canines. At the same time however the fact that the claws are metal add a whole new aspect to his appearance.

The first time you see the character you wonder if he is part machine underneath? The way the Claws can retract back into his body makes it seem like he isn’t completely flesh and blood. It draws you in more than say Storms look and makes you want to know the story behind it.

There is also an element of body horror in his look too the way the knives come bursting from under his skin.

On the one hand it can be a bit uncomfortable to watch, but at the same time, the claws are so striking they draw you in.

He Has A More Complicated Relationship With The Rest Of The Team

I can’t believe they gave up on him so quickly? Then again Magneto does seem to be quite sensitive to criticism.

I think audiences are always drawn to the outsider in any group. You naturally want to know why it is they don’t fit in. Also I think that they often help to stop the other characters from getting on too well with each other.

However somewhat paradoxically whilst Wolverine provides the necessary conflict within the group, at the same time I sometimes feel that being a member of the X-Men means more to Wolverine than the others. He is a loner by nature who has never really fit in anywhere, but among the X-Men he ironically does find a similar group of outcasts and outsiders that he can belong with. Even though he’ll rarely admit it; the gang mean everything to him which makes his dynamic with them a little bit more interesting to me than just the usual loner who looks down on the rest. Wolverine is at odds with yet dependent on them at the same time.

I think the films did a good job in capturing Logan’s dynamic with the group.

In the first entry of the series, he scoffs at the idea of joining the team and seems to go out of his way to antagonise them. Threatening Cyclops, calling Charles “wheels” etc.

However he stays with them more out of practicality than anything else and soon finds himself developing close relationships with many of the other X-Men. He falls in love with Jean, he comes to see Professor X as a mentor figure, he develops a father/daughter relationship with Rogue, a friendship with Storm. Even with Scott his rival, he develops something of a grudging respect for him. I always quite liked the scene in Days of Future Past where he tells Scott sincerely that he is pleased to see him again.

I think my favourite moment however is in Days of Future Past when he asks a young Xavier to make sure he brings the future X-Men together. Even though the team would endure great loss and heartache (Wolverine arguably most of all as he ends up having to murder the woman he loves!) Wolverine still regards his time with them as being the best and most worthwhile years in his entire life. They were the only people he ever really felt accepted among completely and so despite the problems he may have had with some members like Scott (who he still asks Xavier to recruit.) He honestly wouldn’t want to lose his time with the X-Men for anything, as they were the ones who helped him to rediscover his past, give his life a purpose, and in some ways redeem him.

Thus Wolverine’s dynamic with the others is somewhat more complex.

Hugh Jackman’s Performance

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is in my and many other people’s opinions one of the all time greatest performances from any actor as a comic book character.

I’d say that Jackman is as good as Wolverine as Sean Connery or Roger Moore were as James Bond. Like those actors he made the role his own. He captured all aspects of Wolverine’s persona. He was badass, he was cocky, he was sarcastic, all the right superficial things we love Wolverine for. But Jackman also managed to capture the characters more vulnerable and caring side in his relationships with Rogue, Jean and Charles.

His Wolverine was the cool guy that we all wanted to be, but he also seemed like a real person rather than just a badass, quip spouting, one note character.

Jackman also I think really threw himself into the role. His enthusiasm for playing the character has remained just as strong for close to 20 years.

Whilst Wolverine was always a fan favourite the fact that the actor they cast for him was the real stand out among the original X-Men cast. (Which was already a stellar cast.) Obviously made him the most popular among general audiences too which in turn to led him taking over the series.

Conclusion

In conclusion you can see why, even if he isn’t your personal favourite Wolverine does have a certain appeal that other characters don’t.

His dark mysterious past, his feud with Sabretooth, his complicated relationship with his team mates and the fact that he has been brought to life so successfully on screen have all made him the most popular character.

Of course being a badass with cool metal claws doesn’t hurt either.

Top 10 Witches

Witches are probably the most beloved supernatural creature alongside Vampires. Much like Vampires, they have been portrayed as everything, from a teenage fantasy, to misunderstood anti heroes, to campy comic book villains, to the stuff of nightmares!

In this article I am going to run down my own personal favourite Witches. Much like with Vampires, I do tend to prefer my Witches to be terrifying creatures of evil.

When they are villainous, Witches are actually by far and away the most frightening supernatural creature. Vampires are still my favourites as they are by far the most interesting and fun. However ultimately all a Vampire or a Zombie or a Werewolf for that matter can do is kill you, or make you one of their own.

Witches however through their magic can inflict all kinds of horrific fates worse than death on you.They can curse your soul forever, turn you into rats, or trap you in paintings!

Still whilst they are undeniably the most frightening, there have been a wide range of Witch characters across many different mediums and in this article I am going to run down my own personal top 10. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

10/ Jadis, The White Witch (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Not her most serious portrayal in The Young Ones but I still enjoyed it.

One of the most iconic evil Witches in all of fiction. Jadis appears as the main antagonist in both The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and its prequel novel, The Magicians Nephew.

Though she is by far and away more famous for her role in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I actually thought she was more effective in The Magicians Nephew. In this story we find out more about her origin, as well as the horrors she inflicted on her own world too, which actually surpassed her later reign of terror in Narnia.

Jadis originally began as an inhabitant of the world Charn, but she destroyed all of its people using a powerful spell when her attempt to seize the throne from her sister failed. She then put herself into a kind of suspended animation. Hoping someone with magic might visit her one day and she could escape her now dead world.

She would be re-awoken hundreds of years later, when two children. Digory and Polly accidentally travelled to Charn using magical rings bestowed to them by Digory’s Uncle Andrew. I was always somewhat scared of this part of the novel as a child. The idea that the Witch would be willing to destroy her own world, rather than lose to her sister really made her into an even more vicious monster. In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, she was merely a would be conqueror of Narnia, but here she is a full blown omnicidal maniac! Normally in prequels we see a more innocent side to the villain such as in Smallville where we see Lex Luthor go from a decent guy to Superman’s archenemy.

In Jadis’s case however her past was even more horrifying! The White Witch uses Digory and Polly to teleport herself first to earth, before being whisked away by Digory and Polly to another alternate world. Narnia.

Though the ending of The Magician’s Nephew hints that she has been driven away, by the time of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe she has managed to take control of Narnia with an army of monsters. She is later finally slain by the Lion, Aslan in a battle.

The White Witch in many ways was meant to represent Satan in the world of Narnia. At one point in The Magicians Nephew she even tempts Digory with an apple like a serpent in the Garden.

The Witch was unquestionably the best of the villains in any of the Narnia books. She was absolute evil, yet utterly captivating too with all the men of the series falling in love with her they second they set sights on her. Again the fact that she was always described as being so strikingly beautiful is a play on the idea of the Devil being more alluring seemingly than the forces of good.

On screen Jadis was played by Tilda Swindon in the Narnia films, but she has been brought to life on both stage and television many times. Overall not my all time favourite Witch, but still a great villain nonetheless.

9/ Morgana (Merlin)

There have been many different versions of Morgan Le Fey, King Arthur’s evil half sister from Arthurian Legends over the years. Even within the myths themselves her role has varied considerably.

Sometimes she is an outright villain such as the version played by Helen Mirren in Exaclibur, whilst in others such as Helena Bonham Carter’s in the tv miniseries Merlin she is depicted as a more tragic character.

My favourite version however would have to be Katie McGrath’s from the BBC television series Merlin. I liked this interpretation the best because I think they were able to include elements from various different portrayals by having her start off as a heroic character who is driven down a path of villainy. I also feel they made her into a more well rounded character too, as we saw how all of her loyalty and innocence was slowly crushed by her friends and family’s treatment of her.

In this version of the famous story Uther Pendragon has outlawed magic, with anyone who practices it being sentenced to death. Morgana who is his ward regularly fights with him over his treatment of magic users. It is later revealed that this is because she is in fact secretly a Witch herself. In Merlin being a Witch or a Sorcerer is not something you choose. You are born with magic.

At the same time Merlin one of her best friends ends up turning against her, when The Great Dragon tells him of how Morgana is destined to bring about the end of Camelot.

Sadly it ends up being a case of a self fulfilling prophecy as its only because of the Dragons prophecy that Merlin begins to distrust Morgana and push her away. Merlin ends up poisoning her after he suspects she is behind a plot to kill Arthur. Though the Witch Morgause did make her the centre of a spell to help destroy Camelot (which could only be broken if she died) She had no idea that she had been made the centre of the spell and thus was is innocent.

Following this Morgana makes a turn to the dark side and plots to kill Uther, Merlin and later Arthur in order to free her people.

Morgana is essentially a female, magical version of Magneto from the X-Men . She’s part of a group of people who can’t help the way they were born, but because of their power everyone else despises them and tries to either control them or in some cases wipe them out. Morgana and Magneto are among the only two who finally decide that they have had enough and fight back against their oppressors. However in a magnificent irony they both end up going to far and become no different to the people persecuting them.

The only problems with Morgana’s character were primarily that she suffered from overuse in the later years. Being the only villain in the show, she was featured in almost every episode of the 4th and 5th series with a new plot to kill Arthur every week. This had a rather unfortunate side effect of making her seem more like a live action Wile Coyote than anything else. Also I felt that her version of Professor X, Merlin was too weak.

Merlin started out as an interesting character, but at the end of the show because Arthur never brought magic back (which he was prophesied to.) Then Merlin ended up looking like a traitor who supported two regimes that persecuted his kind!

The whole point of a Magneto, Morgana character is that the Professor X character serves as the peaceful alternative who breaks the cycle of hate and finds a way for everyone to live together. Here sadly as Merlin never did that, Morgana actually ends up looking like the hero who tried to save her kind.

Still overall Morgana was an interesting and menacing villain, and Katie McGrath who played her was truly excellent in the role. The popularity of her performance in this series would lead to a highly successful career for McGrath in genre films and television series such as Dracula,  Slasher, Jurassic World and Supergirl. She will also be appearing in another adaptation of Arthurian legends in 2017, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur Legend of the Sword. She’s really a genre queen now thanks to Morgana.

8/ Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

The main antagonist from the 1959 Disney classic, Sleeping Beauty. She is based on the un named evil fairy Godmother from the original story of the same name by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault.

Unlike most other evil Witches, such as the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz or the child eating Witch from Hansel and Gretel. Malificent was not depicted as being a repulsive old hag, but she still had a somewhat unsettling aspect to her appearance. Her bright green skin and her massive horns gave her a somewhat reptilian look which was a nice foreshadowing of the climax of the movie when she changes into a gigantic fire breathing Dragon!

Though not entirely original to the source material, Malificent has gone on to appear in numerous other works over the years including video games and television series such as Once Upon A Time. A 2014 remake simply called Malificent attempted to flesh her character out and present her as more of an anti hero. Malificent in this movie was played by Angelina Jolie who won great praise for her performance. However personally the definitive portrayal for me will always be the original, Eleanor Audley.

Whilst Malificent may not be the most frightening Witch her unique look and commanding presence make her one of Cinema’s most memorable Witches and villains in general.

7/ Regina, The Evil Queen (Once Upon A Time)

One of the main antagonists/protagonists from Once Upon A Time. Regina is based on the Evil Queen from the Snow White fairy tale. Her origins are naturally somewhat expanded on to make her more sympathetic.

In the original fairy tale the Evil Queen grows jealous that Snow White is prettier than her, whilst in this version a young Snow White inadvertently causes the death of Regina’s one true love, which along with her cruel mother Cora’s influence turns her into a monster.

Regina starts out as the series main villain, but even from the start we see there as a softer side to her as above else she does still genuinely love her adopted son Henry.

Gradually over the course of the series we see Regina overcome her dark side and eventually become a heroic character, though she still has the odd relapse now and again. Its true that Regina has been somewhat over used over the course of the series. She is a big favourite of the writers who at one point were quoted as saying that whenever they think up a new story. The first thing they think of is “how can we get Regina involved in this?”

Still despite this, the characters interesting history, poisonous relationship with her mother, complex rivalry with Snow and above all else, Lana Parilla’s brilliant performance have all helped Regina to stand out as something special.

6/ Queen Bavmorda (Willow)

The main antagonist from the 1988 George Lucas film Willow. She was played by Jean Marsh, who also played the head stealing Witch from Return to Oz and would later go on to play the evil Morgana in the Doctor Who story Battlefield. She had a real knack for playing evil Witches!

There’s not much to Bavmorda’s character. Just another evil monarch who plans to kill the child prophecized to overthrow her.

However Jean Marsh’s performance really elevates her to being an all time classic fantasy villain. She really gives  the character a lot of presence and menace. I’d say she steals the film as much as Tim Curry’s portrayal of Darkness does in Legend. Whenever you think of both movies its their performances that first spring to mind.

5/ Muriel, (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

The main villain and evil queen of the Witches from Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Muriel is played by Famke Janssen who much like Jean Marsh is a natural at playing all powerful villains. Shes blown Patrick Stewart to pieces, and tortured Owen Wilson almost to death. If anyone knew how to bring the most evil and destructive Witch to life then it was her.

Muriel is a much more brutal Witch than many other famous on screen Wicca’s. She pulls her victims to bits with branches, and force feeds them maggots which make them explode.

Her death is also fittingly more brutal too. She is stabbed, beaten to within an inch of her life, hung from the ceiling, and decapitated with a shovel!

Whilst mainstream critics may have savaged the film, I personally loved Hansel and Gretel:Witch Hunters. I think it was nice to see a return to more evil, brutal witches and Janssen’s Grand High Witch was the perfect antagonist for the re-imagined duo.

4/ The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz)

THE iconic, green skinned, big nosed, ugly Witch from popular culture. The Wicked Witch ironically was more of a minor antagonist in the original Oz book series by L Frank Baum. The main villain was always the Nome King (who did finally appear on screen in the movie Return to Oz).

Still thanks to the classic 1939 MGM adaptation where the Witch was played by Margaret Hamilton, the Witch has become the most famous villain from the series.

She has gone on to appear in multiple adaptation of the Oz books over the years. Much like with Malificent some portrayals have even attempted to make her more sympathetic such as the novel Wicked and the recent film Oz The Great and Powerful where the Witch was played by Mila Kunis.

Still once again the classic Witch will always be Margaret Hamilton’s, sneering at a young Judy Garland “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too”.

She’s not the most formidable Witch granted. She can be killed by a bucket of water! Still her devilishly wicked sense of humour and her over the top appearance really do make her the ideal villain for the imaginative and surreal world of Oz.

3/ Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel)

A character that embodies the best qualities of the good and portrayals of Witches. Willow was also easily the best developed character across the entirety of Buffy along with Spike.

We see her go from a young, bullied, shy damsel in distress, to a strong, capable, intelligent woman, to a fearsome Witch, to a magic addict, to the most dangerous enemy Buffy has ever faced, to hero who changes the world for good.

When you look at the Willow in the first episode cowering at the sight of a punk ass Vampire. It doesn’t even seem like the same character as the all powerful Wicca ripping the skin off of Warren Mears in season 6, but when you watch the show all the way through you can see how they develop Willow to that moment perfectly.

By far and away Willow’s greatest two Witchy moments are when she takes on Glory a hell goddess and when she avenges her lover Tara Maclay, by literally flaying Warren alive. Its pretty cool to take on a goddess, even for a Witch and even Muriel never went as far as to flay someone alive. Not that Warren didn’t have it coming.

2/ The Halliwell Sisters (Charmed)

By far the greatest heroic Witches. The Halliwell sisters were the main protagonists in Charmed. They consisted of Prue, Piper, Phoebe and later Paige.

In some respects the Charmed ones were a similar concept to the Slayers from Buffy. The chosen female heroes whose role was to fight Demons, and who were guided by a rigid organisation (Whitelighters, Watchers).

Still the Charmed ones carved out their own identity quickly. All 4 actresses were excellent, but what really made the show was their strong chemistry with one another (even with the alleged behind the scenes feuding).

If I had to pick a favourite then it would be Prue. I always liked Prue’s deadpan, dry sense of humour and her no nonsense attitude to slaying Demons when compared with her more vulnerable sisters.

Still whilst Prue was my favourite, the show did manage to go on without her for another 5 years, as the dynamic of the three Witches fighting evil was very strong regardless. On the one hand it was a classic supernatural story, but on the other it was also a very human story of three sisters sticking by each other through the worst circumstances.

1/ The Grand High Witch (The Witches)

The Grand High Witch is to Witches what the Reapers are to Vampires. It is the darkest, most hideous interpretation imaginable.

Vampires and Witches can be alluring, or repulsive. On the one hand there is something attractive about the idea of being a Vampire or a Witch. An immortal, sexy, super powered badass, or someone with brilliant, magical powers. Thus not surprisingly many writers have capitalised on that and turned them into teenage fantasies, like Twilight or Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

However at the same time they are also legitimately horrifying ideas too. Something that is dead returning to feast on the blood of innocent people, or a person with the power to twist the natural world to its will.

Thus some writers have obviously capitalised on this and used the idea of Witches and Vampires to create the most frightening monsters. Again personally I prefer the latter interpretation.

I think its safe to say Sabrina portrayed Witches in a more glamorous way.

The Witches in both Roald Dahl’s novel, simply called The Witches and the 1990 film adaptation are hideous Demons who torture and murder children using their magic.

 

I am not going to lie this scene absolutely terrified me.  Poor Erica, being trapped in a painting of one tiny little farm house for the rest of her life. She got it even worse than Georgie in IT.

The Grand High Witch, their leader is the most evil and fearsome of all the Witches. It must take a lot to be the most disgusting creature in a room full of evil child killing Demons!

In the novel she is actually described as being very short and having hideous rotting skin and long dark hair. This was changed in the film when Anjelica Houston was cast and the Witch was made into a physically imposing, more Demonic looking beast.

Personally I think that this change was for the better. I remember the first time I saw the Witches when Anjelica Huston first appeared on screen, I thought she was absolutely gorgeous, and then this happened.

It was proper nightmare fuel! I think this was more effective than to simply try and make the Witch always look alluring or always hideous. Here the movie created a real sense of paranoia. Literally anyone could be the Witch. Even the most glamorous looking person could tear their face off and transform into the most nightmarish monster.

Anjelica Huston was absolutely sensational in the role too. I’d rank her performance as the Witch alongside that of any of the great horror actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing’s greatest performances as characters like Dracula and Victor Frankenstein.

She holds nothing back in playing an utterly vile and loathsome character. There has never been a more evil woman on screen than Anjelica Huston as the Witch and that’s why I’d rank her as my favourite Witch.

Thanks for reading.